JULY 4, 1754 Days after the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, George Washington sent off a note to Colonel Adam Stephen — a man with whom he had fought at the miserable capitulation of Fort Necessity 22 years ago, on a very different Fourth of July — reminding him to never forget that day…
Today was a first. The first time I have seen the charge of desertion against an ancestor. It was during the Revolution.
The man in question is Goodhart Tressler, a resident of Maryland of German descent. According to his company captain, a John Kershner, Goodhart deserted his post on June 2nd, 1778. The soldiers were stationed at Fort Frederick, Maryland at the time, guarding prisoners.
Perhaps one of these days I will be able to dig up more details on this story. What prompted him to walk away? Was the wife and family in trouble?
Goodhart was the great-grandfather of my great-great grandmother Ellen Catherine Lint. The name Catherine, or Katherine, had been passed down through the generations, beginning with Goodhart’s wife, Catharina.
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.
Some of his collection was used in the new bookReporting 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.