So many ancestors, so VERY little time!! I was just cleaning up my hard drive when I came across a Revolutionary War Pension file for my 4th great grandfather, Reuben Damon. I had downloaded it from Heritage Quest several years ago. At the time I was thrilled with the fact that it was available online. I downloaded all 6 pages of it and haven't thought of it again until today.
You may not be aware of it, but Heritage Quest, which is accessible through many libraries, has a database of "selected" Revolutionary War pension application files. They are taken from the National Archives and Records Administration "selected" series, which means NARA went through and picked out those files they thought genealogists might want to see, and filmed them. Heritage Quest put them online, which seemed altogether miraculous at the time. BUT they only contain the pages of the selected series. The other, more complete microfilm series contains all pension and bounty land records, but was probably much too large for Heritage Quest to tackle at the time. As a result this database is woefully incomplete, something that might be overlooked by a new researcher. Not only that but the images are shot at a low resolution and very grainy, as you'd expect for earlier technology. Here is one page, plus a detailed shot.
In the years since I downloaded the HQ file, Footnote.com has come online, and bless them, they have complete Revolutionary War pension files (along with hundreds of other records types). So off I rushed to check their version. I used to have a stand-alone subscription to their site, but my subscription ran out on 28 July of this year. I knew that NEHGS had an agreement with Footnote and we were supposed to be able to get a discount on it through our membership with them, so I went hunting for that information.
From what I can tell, NEHGS and Footnote no longer have this agreement. I found an old link to the offer being the brazen beast I am, clicked on it. Though it was supposed to have expired in February, my transaction went through. So I'm okay for another year!
Here is the much easier to read version. This one has 23 pages.
Reuben Daman's file is a moderate 27 pages long. Exactly which of these pages did the HQ people select? One was the index card, so that left only 5 pages of information. Suffice to say, lots was left out of the HQ file.The clerk had extremely neat handwriting and his spelling was impeccable, even by today' standards, though punctuation is a bit wobbly at times. Our pensioner's memory is very good, and he has witnesses to most of his service, including, wondrously enough, Samuel Deane, author of the History of Scituate! I feel I must run to that book now and see if he speaks of his buddy Reuben, knowing that anything he said about him was likely first-hand information.
To transcribe the file I created a document in my Mac word processing program, Pages. It has facing pages so that I can insert the pension page on the left and transcribe it on the right side. This makes it easy to compare and contrast.
Pension files contain a wealth of information about the pensioner, his family, his war service, his buddies and his era. The absolute best part is that we get it in the pensioner's own words. Below is the first part of his file, not in Reuben's words, but tells what he was up to during the Revolution. I like to think I got my interest in the flute from Reuben, Fifer! I started here with Footnote.com's page 4 of the file, just because I thought was the most interesting and concise portion. I will do the rest later and probably upload it to my new website (in progress). Don't look for it soon, but I plan to put up transcriptions and little histories, etc.
This is what it will look like.
Here is the Footnote.com version. So much easier on the eyes.
State of Massachusetts }
County of Plymouth } ss.
On this twenty second day of August A.D. 1832 personally
appeared in open Court, before the Honl Wilkes Wood Judge of the
Court of Probate for the said County of Plymouth, now sitting
at Hanover in said County, Reuben Damon a Resident of
Scituate in the said County of Plymouth & State of Massachusetts
aged seventy three years, who being first duly sworn according
to law, doth on his oath make the following delaration in
order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.
That he entered the service of the United States under
the following named officers and served as herein stated to wit:
1st In August or Sepr of 1776 he entered said service as a
private and did the duty of Fifer in the Company commanded by
Joseph Stetson, Lieut. Bemjamin Studley and Ensign Benj Holmes,
marched to Roxbury was stationed there a short time, then marched
to Boston, and was stationed near [Acmoody’s] lane, there was one
other Company there at the same time. his duty to guard the town
and public stores. he served three months, was then discharged
and returned home to Scituate. He can prove this service by
Charles Turner, who served with him and his deposition is annexed.
2d In the month of May A.D. 1777. He volunteerd and went
to Castle William in Boston harbour, was employed in repairing
and rebuilding the fortifications which the Brittish troops had de=
molished on their leaving Boston, the Engineer under whom he
served was Coll Burbeck. he served three months was then
discharged and returned hom to Scituate, he knows of no one
living by whom he can prove this service and his deposition is
3d In the month of July as he thinks A.D. 1778 he
entered said service as a private in the Company commanded
by Joseph Cliff of Marshfield, the other Officers not recollected
he with two other soldiers went directly to Howland’s Ferry, and
there joined said Company, in August crossed the Ferry to Rhode
Island. his Company was attached to Col Thayers’ Regiment as he
thinks. Genl Sullivan was commander in chief. The American
troops remained on the Island about three weeks after he joined
them, then they all retreated before the British troops, and his
Regiment retreated over Howland’s Ferry to Tiverton, then marched
to Providence, then to Patuxett and there continued to the end
of his term he having served, one month & 19 days he was then dis=
charged and returned home to Scituate the last of October as he
thinks. he can prove this service by Francis Litchfield who
served with him and his deposition is hereto annexed. Also see
the Certificate of the Secretary of the State of Massachusetts annexed, in which
he is who stated to have served four days more in the Lexington Alarm
4th In April A.D. 1779. he entered said service as a private
in the Company commanded by Captain Wilder, the other Officers (not)
recollected, went to Nantaskett, joined said Company was there
stationed and served to the end of his term, he having served three
months, was then discharged and returned home to Scituate, there
was a Company of Artillery commanded by Peter Nichols stationed
there at the same time. he knows of no one living by whom
he can prove this service.
5th In July as he thinks A.D. 1780 he entered said service
as a private in Cap Amos Turner’s Company, Lieut Benjn Stetson
Ensign Nathl Brooks, marched to Howland’s Ferry and crossed over
to Newport on Rhode Island. his Company was attached to Coll John
Jacob’s Regiment, Lieut Col John Clapp, After serving with said Regt.
four or five weeks, he with three others of his Company was detached to
tend Howland’s Ferry and so continued untill the end of his term, and
having served four months. he was discharged and returned home.
Elisha Briggs who served in the same Company with him can prove
this service, his disposition is annexed.
He served in all as aforesaid fourteen months & 19 days, he never
received a written discharge, nor has he any documentary evidence
of his service.
He was born in Scituate the 13th day of February 1759.
His birth is recorded in the town Records of Scituate. He lived in
Scituate when he entered said service and has always lived there,
He volunteered or enlisted into each tern of service aforesaid
he was in no instance drafted, nor was he a substitute. He
has named all the officers under whom he served that now recollects
also all the important circumstances of his service.
He is known in his present neighborhood to Samuel Deane
Samuel A. Turner and others who can testify as to his character
for veracity and their belief of his services as a soldier of the
Reuben Daman (signature)
He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension
or annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the
pension roll of the agency of any State.
Reuben Daman (signature)
Sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid.
Attest Jacob H. Loud Register
We Samuel Deane a clery man residing in the town
of Scituate in the County of Plymouth and State of Massachusetts
and Samuel A. Turner residing in the same town hereby
certify that we are well acquainted with Reuben Damon who
has subscribed and sworn to the above declaration, that we believe
him to be seventy three years of age, that he is reputed and believed
in the neighbourhood where he resides, to have been a soldier of the
Revolution, and that we concur in that opinion_
Samuel Deane (signature)
Samuel A. Turner (signature)
Sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid,
Attest Jacob H. Loud Register
And the said Court do hereby declare their opinion after
the investigation of the matter and after putting the interrogatories
prescribed by the War Department, that the above named applicant
was a revolutionary soldier and served as he states, And the Court
further certifies that it appears to them that Samuel Deane who
has signed the preceding certificate is a clergyman resident in the
said town of Scituate and that Samuel A. Turner who has
also signed the same is a resident in the same town and is a
credible person and that their statement is entitled to credit.
By the Court attest Jacob H. Loud Register
I Jacob H. Loud Register of the said Court of
Probate do hereby certify that the foregoing contains the original
proceedings of the said Court in the matter of the application of
Reuben Damon for a pension.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and
seal of said Court this twenty second day of August in the year of
our Lord one thousand eight hundred & thirty two,
Jacob H. Loud
Here is a lovely record of his birth, something commonly found in Revolutionary War pension files.