Category Archives: American Revolution

There’s Got To Be A Connection — Somewhere

Pages from a book on George Darling of Scotland focusing on his great grandson Jabez


Let me give you a scenario.

Two men, both named Jabez, both with the surname Darling, both born in the 18th century. There’s got to be a familial connection, right?

Well, that’s what I’m thinking. Unfortunately, I haven’t found it yet.

The first Jabez died during the American Revolution. He was caught up in a nasty back-and-forth between the colonists and the Brits and their Native allies.

Before the Revolution, there was conflict between the colonists in the Wyoming Valley, a region in northeastern Pennsylvania. Connecticut had claimed the northern part of Pennsylvania as its own. Of course, Pennsylvanians thought otherwise. Hence, a series of skirmishes known as the Yankee-Pennamite Wars ensued, which were interrupted by the Revolution.

Jabez Darling was on the losing side, though he may not have lived long enough to feel the repercussions. Most of the Connecticut settlers, the Yankees, lost their land.

In 1778, the British, their redcoats and their Indian allies, swept through the Wyoming Valley, burning and killing and scalping along the way. When word of the first killings reached the civilians, most of them fled in what was described as the Great Runaway. Those who remained stayed to fight and protect what was theirs. Jabez was one who stayed behind. He was killed on July 3rd, 1778, just two years after the Declaration of Independence was drafted in Philadelphia, during an attack on Forty Fort, not far from Wilkes-Barre and Scranton.

Another branch of the family, on the Hill side, was there, too, at the time. Martin Tidd, future father-in-law of James Hill, witnessed the same events. He probably knew the Darling family and Jabez Darling in particular. Both the Darlings and the Tidds had come from Connecticut, making them Yankees. Yankees didn’t come from New York. They were from New England.

Martin Tidd, like many of the Darlings, ended up in Ohio, thanks, at least in part, to Congress intervening and settling the land disputes in favor of the Pennsylvanians. Connecticut claimed land in the Ohio country, too, what was called the Northwest Territory.

A portion was set aside for Connecticut known as the Western Reserve. Part of the Western Reserve was for those who had lost property by fire, intentionally set by the British and their allies to terrorize the citizens, during the Revolution. Thus, the term Fire Lands was used to describe this area.

Many of the Connecticut settlers of the Wyoming Valley took advantage of the opportunity and left for what would become the state of Ohio. Martin Tidd did so. He was among the first settlers of Youngstown in 1797, a small band which included his daughter Sarah Tidd and her husband, his son-in-law, James Hill.

Another Jabez Darling, my ancestor who was apparently named after the Jabez who was killed in 1778, went to Ohio, too, after having lived in New York for decades. There he died, in 1836. Who his parents were is unclear, though I am convinced there is a connection to the previous Jabez who died in 1778 during the Revolution.

Another connection is David Darling, a longtime resident of Seneca County, New York, who shows up at Jabez’s youngest son’s farm in Washington County, Iowa in May of 1871. Jabez’s son, Ezra Darwin Darling, had married one of his boss’s daughters in New York and then left for Iowa after the well-to-do father didn’t take it well. I’m guessing that David Darling is an uncle of Ezra and brother of Jabez the Younger.

Now, I just have to prove it. I have some digging and poking around to do. Hopefully, I can piece it together, finding a clue here or there.


George’s Hair

30-george-washington-grangerI’ve been reading about George Washington’s hair.

It wasn’t a wig. His hair was real and styled much like the British military officers of the day.

He wore his own hair which was light brown in color, tied in a queue and powdered. The queue was sometimes worn in a small black silk bag.”

Fashions are peculiar, coming and going like the wind. It’s fun to learn about what how my ancestors looked and acted.


Our Own ‘Connections’ To History

A map showing the area of Pennsylvania where my ancestors lived and died
A map showing the area of Pennsylvania where my ancestors lived and died

Most of my nephews attend some sort of non-traditional schools. Part of my oldest nephew’s homework is memorizing key events throughout history. It’s called CC Memory Work, part of something called Classical Conversations.

The Seven Years’ War and the American Revolution are on the list, so I decided to show him how we are connected to these wars of yesteryear. One of my favorite classic TV shows is a British production titled Connections. The host, James Burke, explains history as a sort of thread, connecting all manner of inventions, discoveries, and events.

I started by showing my nephew a portrait of a man named Martin Tidd, one of our ancestors. Martin’s father, John Tidd, had been killed at the outset of the French and Indian War, the name of the Seven Years’ War in the North American theater.

Murder of John Tidd, 23 June 1757

From the journal of Captain Johannes Van Etten, 1757, as reprinted in “Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania”:

“[June 1757:]

23. In the morning, near Eleven O’c, the fort was allarm’d by some of the neighbours who had made their escape from the Enemy, five of them in Company near Brawdhead’s [Brodhead’s] house, seeking their horses in order to go to mill, was fir’d upon by the Enemy, and said that one of them, John Tidd by name, was Kill’d, whereupon I immediately Draughted out 9 men, myself making the tents, in as private a manner as possible, and as privately went back into the mountains in order to make a discovery… […Here follows an account of pursuing and driving off the Indians…] Being come, we found him Kill’d and Scalp’d, his Body and face Cut in an inhuman manner, Cattle also lying dead on the Ground, where upon they all went of and left me with my small number to take care of the Dead man; whereupon we took him up and Returned to the fort; in which time my men that went to Easton Return’d to the fort.

24. Att about nine in the morning, having made redy, I went with 18 men and buried the man [Tidd], then went from the grave in search and found 15 Cattle, Horses and hogs dead, besides two that was shot, one with 5 bulits, the other with one, and yet there are many missing, out of which the Enemy took, as we Judg, the value of two Beaves and almost one Swine – in the Evening sent an Express by two men to the Maj’rs.”


The Revolution — As It Happened

Todd Andrlik, a history buff who works in marketing in Chicago, has amassed a significant collection of printed newspapers, going back 250 years.

Some of his collection was used in the new book Reporting the Revolutionary War: Before It Was History, It Was News. It is “a coffee table book describing the War of Independence day-to-day, as Colonial readers would have read about it.”

It all started, as most things did, in Philadelphia.

Tucked into a somewhat wonky story about tax law in the Pennsylvania Gazette, dated May 10, 1764, is this item:

‘Our other Advices by the Packet are, that a Scheme of Taxation of the American Colonies has for some Time been in Agitation. That it had been previously debated in Parliament, whether they had Power to lay such a Tax on Colonies which had no Representative in Parliament…’

‘ . . . [T]his is the first known published account of a complaint regarding taxation without representation, the idea that would form the core of the American Revolution.’

The story unfolded in real time, without easy methods of communicating.

Newspapers and reporting was much different in the colonial era. There was no CNN and few actual reporters.

Often “breaking news” had happened weeks before. News sources included personal correspondence and heavy “borrowing” without attribution from other newspapers, as information slowly flowed between the Colonies.

You’re getting an appreciation for the length of time it took for this thing to unravel. It’s not a quick one-page worth of bullet points. It’s 20 to 30 years of revolution. That, to me, is fascinating — you see this gradual unfolding.” — Todd Andrlik

Fortunately for aficionados of history such as Andrlik and myself, many accounts of the Revolution have survived. You see, thankfully, in the 18th century, newspapers were printed on rag linen, woven from shredded cloth and sail-cloth. It’s durable enough to last hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. Today’s newspaper stock, made from wood-pulp, isn’t the same. It degrades quickly.

For me, it wasn’t just the news pertaining to the American Revolution. It was the ads, the obituaries, the essays. All of the contextual pieces I never got in textbooks.” — Andrlik

The book includes commentary from several historians to help the reader better understand the event and period.


An Archaeological Dig in the Backyard

A couple in South Carolina bought a house a few years back. Alone, the fact isn’t newsworthy. But the duo and some friends have a keen interest in archaeology.

They have put some work into renovating the 1,050-square-foot home, but they won’t be selling it until their crew of history buffs finishes cutting one-meter square holes in the yard and sifting the dirt searching for artifacts.

The site is in the city of Cayce.

They’re finding plenty of pottery and glassware, pieces of brick and nails, and at least one pipe stem, mostly from the Revolutionary War era to the middle 19th century. Most of the artifacts are only a couple of feet below the surface.

“One of the neighbors saw what we were doing and said, ‘Oh, I’ve been finding that in my garden. I’ve just been throwing it away.'”

History is that matter-of-fact in the area near where Congaree Creek runs into the Congaree River. The bluffs on the west side of the river have been public gathering places for thousands of years.

The remains of what experts believe is the dock of Friday’s Ferry, a Colonial-era river crossing, has been found in the riverbank . . . George Washington crossed the Congaree at Friday’s Ferry during his goodwill tour of the South in 1791.

“It’s the only place I know where you can do an archaeological dig and come inside and watch TV and get a drink of water,” one volunteer explained.

Most Saturdays the past few weeks, they’ve been digging carefully and then sifting the soil.

Though a couple of holes in the back yard yielded few items, almost every hole along the front-yard fence has yielded several plastic storage bags full of artifacts. None of the breakable items are intact. Even if all of the shards don’t fit together physically, they paint a vivid picture of the variety of uses of this land since the 1700s. (Few Native American artifacts have been found.)

Computer overlays of maps of the original European settlements in Lexington County, Granby (1760) and Saxe Gotha (1730), along with individual property plats were used to find previous owners. The property was owned by John Matthews during the Saxe Gotha era. An 18th century trading post operated by a man named Thomas Brown was nearby.

The plan is to donate many of the items to a museum, probably the historical museum in Cayce.


Early Hill Family Tax Records

Today I discovered a collection of Pennsylvania tax records while poking around After finding Martin Tidd, I limited my search to Northumberland County and the name Hill.

I have had a heck of a time finding anyone related to my ancestor James Hill, who was supposedly born on June 22, 1763.

A James Hill is listed living in the county in 1790. He is living next door to some of the Jordans, giving credence to the idea that he was married to Mary Jordan for a time and probably had fathered at least four daughters. This information is from the first-ever federal census.

What happened to them is unknown to me. I am assuming Mary died and then James married again, the daughter of Martin Tidd, Sarah.

There are many people with the surname Hill in Northumberland County. There is likely more than one family with the Hill name in the county during the colonial and revolutionary time frames.

I know one is of German stock. They followed the traditions of the Old World, names and all. Eventually their Germanness subsided, and they became thoroughly Anglicized.

Trying to separate them out has not been an easy task during my years of research. But I am taking the plunge again in the hopes of discovering something worthwhile.

One, Daniel Hill, was living in Muncy. There are tax records for him from 1778-1780 and 1781. There are some duplicates for the same years, so there may be two men with the name Daniel Hill.

Elizabeth Hill was listed in White Deer Township. Tax records for her were for the years 1778-1780.

A Frederick Hill made his home in Augusta. I am confident he was part of the German clan. Friedrich was a very popular name among the Germans. My maternal grandfather had it as part of his name.

There is a Jacob Hill in White Deer and a Jacob Hill in Muncy. They may be the same man. Of course, they could also be two different individuals, perhaps father and son or uncle and nephew.

The name Jacob is important, a possible clue, because Craig Hill, a participant in the Hill DNA Project, is a perfect match with me and descends from Jacob A. Hill, a grandson of James Hill.

A Henry Hill is listed for 1781 in Potter Township. Henry is a significant name because of Henry N. Hill, another grandson of James. Henry was the son of Martin Hill, who was named after Martin Tidd.

I will add a file of what I’ve found, all of the names and years, in case I might have missed something. It is always nice to be able to easily go back and look at the records again.


Fallout from the Declaration

While I was visiting relatives in Oregon, my dad pointed out an article reprinted in the local paper, the Polk County Itemizer-Observer. It was written by a man named Harold Pease.

The subject was the men behind the Declaration of Independence and the consequences some of them experienced.

Of course, today we oft forget the sacrifices of those remarkable men (and women) who came before us.

Benjamin Franklin said, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately,” just before signing the Declaration.

Pease provides some fascinating details on these men and what happened immediately thereafter.

Most paid a remarkably high price for taking their stand. In a wrathful spirit of revenge, the enemy singled them out for harsh vengeance. Five were captured and imprisoned and two others barely escaped captivity.

The first named by Pease was Richard Stockton.

Richard Stockton, one of those captured after his whereabouts was betrayed by a loyalist informer, was “dragged from bed in the middle of the night, severely beaten and thrown into prison” where he underwent continual abuse and also suffered malnourishment. By the time the Congress arranged for his exchange, he was broken physically and never recovered. He had also lost almost all his property.

The second name of honor was Abraham Clark, although it was his sons who the Brits targeted.

Unable to capture Abraham Clark, another signatory, the British took their wrath out on his two sons, who were imprisoned on the notorious prison ship Jersey. “Word was sent to Clark that his boys would be freed if he would disown the revolutionary cause and praise the British Crown. At his refusal, his sons were singled out for cruel treatment. One was placed in a tiny cell and given no food. Fellow prisoners kept him alive by laboriously pushing tiny bits of food through a keyhole. Both sons somehow survived their ordeal.”

British military leadership was relentless and unforgiving.

The British had a particular zeal for destroying the homes and property of the signers. Those suffering this fate included Benjamin Harrison, George Clymer, Dr. John Witherspoon, Philip Livingston, William Hooper, and William Floyd. The sacrifices of John Hart and Francis Lewis are particularly noteworthy. “While his wife lay gravely ill, Redcoats destroyed Hart’s growing crops and ripped his many grist mills to pieces. Bent on taking him, they chased him for several days. They almost nabbed him in a wooded area, but he hid in a cave. When he returned home with his health broken, he found his wife dead and their 13 children scattered.”

Another man highlighted was Francis Lewis.

The story of Francis Lewis was equally tragic. “When the British plundered and burned his home at Whitestone on Long Island, they took his wife prisoner. She was thrown into a foul barracks and treated cruelly. For several months she had to sleep on the floor and was given no change of clothing. George Washington was able eventually to arrange for her exchange for two wives of British officers the Continental Arm was holding prisoner. Her health was so undermined that she died two years later.”

One man, Thomas Nelson Jr., volunteered to destroy his home rather than let the British use it as a headquarters.

Thomas Nelson Jr., another signatory, made one of the most unusual sacrifices of the war. At Yorktown the British had selected his residence as headquarters. Washington, reluctant to destroy his compatriots beautiful home, was directed to do so by Nelson himself.

We will always honor and remember these brave souls.


The Three Jacobs

Because I am related to a man named Jacob A. Hill, I have been curious if the name has a history in the family.

Jacob was a grandson of James Hill, my earliest known ancestor on my Hill line of the family tree. James Hill, despite what one source says, was most likely born in Pennsylvania on June 22, 1763. A descendant of Jacob joined the Hill DNA Project a few years back, and DNA proves the connection.

There are three men named Jacob Hill in Volume II of the DAR Patriot Index. All have strong ties to Pennsylvania.

The first listed was born on May 21, 1750 in Pennsylvania. This Jacob married Christina Schad. He died in Pennsylvania on February 9, 1809. He served in Pennsylvania as a private during the Revolution.

The second Jacob Hill listed was born on May 9, 1750. He married a woman named Christena Gortner. He was a captain who served in Pennsylvania. He died on January 9, 1824 in Pennsylvania.

The third and final Jacob listed was born about 1755 and was a private in Pennsylvania. He married Eva Schmidt. He died around August 21, 1783 in Pennsylvania.

Because all three wives have German-sounding maiden names, I am favoring the idea that none of these men are related to my Hill family. But one never knows, so I am including this information in my notes.

According to one cousin’s family tradition, the family was from Scotland. This has been confirmed from DNA testing, although much genealogy work remains to be done. Perhaps a Scotsman, or a descendant of Scots, married a young, pretty German lass?


The Three Killer B’s

A shot of Brodhead Creek in winter near Canadensis, Pennsylvania
A shot of Brodhead Creek in winter near Canadensis, Pennsylvania

Today The Mercury, a newspaper in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, published one fisherman’s account of a recent outing.

[T]here are no more storied trout streams in the Northeast U.S. as the three Killer B’s — the Beaver Kill, Brodhead and the Batten Kill.”

The Brodhead is named after Daniel Brodhead. Brodhead is a key historical figure in Pennsylvania history. His son, Daniel Brodhead IV, is featured prominently in the narrative portion of the book A History of the Tidds of Ohio.

On August 18, 1955, after days of torrential rain, flooding devastated communities along Brodhead Creek.
On August 18, 1955, after days of torrential rain, flooding devastated communities along Brodhead Creek, including this bridge.

The stream is named for Daniel Brodhead who, ironically, moved from New York to Pennsylvania in 1737, according to family history. A licensed trader with the Native Americans and a captain in the militia, Daniel settled along Analoming [Analomink] Creek purchasing 640 acres of land of what is now East Stroudsburg. The Brodhead later received his family name.

Apparently trout fishing on the Brodhead has been a popular pastime for a very long time.

Besides being the stuff of angling history — dating back to Colonial times — the Killer B’s have little more in common than good trout fishing and the second letter of the alphabet.”

The author had just returned from a trip to one of the other creeks.

I wasn’t home a full week when another friend rang and asked if I wanted to take an evening ride to the Brodhead above East Stroudsburg. We decided to proceed that very night because it was cloudy, rain was on the way and I love that kind of weather for spring trout fishing.”

The fishing and atmospherics were great.

[W]e fished the Brodhead and it fished great and was truly beautiful and when it comes down to it, that’s all you really need to know. But this is this week’s column, not last week’s, so it’s my duty to tell you everything I can so that you’ll learn something about the Brodhead . . . ”

I don’t know where he collected all of this background, but it is interesting to learn about, especially since my ancestors were right there along side Daniel Brodhead and probably fished this stream like so many others.

The first thing you must understand is that the stream is called the “Brodhead” not the “Broadhead.” Don’t be a New Yooorker and pronounce it “Broad” when it’s “Brod.”

I don’t know much about “Yankee” accents, other than the fact that I may have one, a Midwest, Tom Brokaw version. I always thought the name was pronounced Broadhead and am unsure how to say the name as he explains.

For nearly 22 miles the Brodhead flows through the Poconos and into the Delaware River — covering an area where, these days, [there] are way more Mets and Yankees fans than there used to be.

I have an extreme dislike of the Yankees, too.

We can only imagine British colonial officers who carried their fly rods and reels from England and Scotland, venturing from New York and Philadelphia to pioneer the wilds of Monroe County.

Later, in the 19th century, the Catskills became a haven for fly fishing, and this included the Brodhead.

He mentions a few other men, two fishing-related. Thaddeus Norris, an early fishing author, and gunsmith and violin marker Samuel Philippe, who developed a split cane bamboo rod.

Norris is said to have experimented with “a dry fly method,” which he used on the Brodhead and described in his 1865 work, “American Angler’s Book.” His creativity took place some 25 years before Theodore Gordon – who many consider the father of American fly fishing – demonstrated his dry fly innovations.

“Like the Beaver Kill, the Brodhead was the aquatic residence of native brook trout but by the late 19th century the Pocono stream was so degraded” that people stopped coming.

Through the 20th century major sections of the stream were secured by private fishing clubs and kept for members only, so much of the Brodhead was off limits to public fishing.

Fish and fishing have returned, however.

Today, however, there are at least seven miles of public fishing on the middle Brodhead and recently another chunk opened above Analomink (modern spelling).

Even here the Brodhead is constructed with fast descending riffles and punctuated by deep bedrock-lined pools. Though the stream has a tannic tint and, in places, the soil is contaminated with coal tar, the water carries a crystal clarity.

The Brodhead family connects to episodes throughout early American history. The first Daniel Brodhead was part of the English effort to wrest control of the New Netherland colony from the Dutch.


The Most Important Gun in American History?

An obscure air rifle, the Girandoni, is credited with an enormous influence on the development of the United States, according to a writer with Gun Digest. The Girandoni, a .46 caliber repeating rifle, was Italian-made.

How it arrived in America in 1803 is unknown but it became the essential weapon of Lewis and Clark on their westward explorations. Without the firepower of the Girandoni, Lewis and Clark may have never survived their journey.

Flipping through the book The Greatest Guns of Gun Digest one might pick the Colt Single Action or the Winchester 94 or the Luger or the 1903 Springfield.

Many other guns are included in the book, and they are certainly great but how much did they influence the course of history?

What was one gun that was pivotal is changing the history of a society?

At least one man thinks it is the Girandoni.