American Independence and our family

I'm doing the genealogical happy dance this weekend.  A few months ago I wrote about the Hartwell family and their involvement in Paul Revere's famous ride.  This week, I found some more documents that further link this family to the Revolutionary War.  And with today being Independence Day here in the United States, it's only natural that we take another look at this family. 

Just before the weekend, I got a notice in email that Footnote had opened a number of its collections of U.S. military records for a short while in honor of Independence Day.  One that caught my eye was the Revolutionary War pension files, since there are several lines I am researching that lead back to Colonial America.  My first thought was to look for Hartwells in Connecticut and Massachusetts.  It took a little reading through the contents of the folder, but with most of the vital information matching up exactly with what I already knew about him, I think I found the right Oliver Hartwell.

This Oliver Hartwell was born 24 April 1739 in Groton, New London County, Connecticut.  He married, probably sometime around 1765, Hannah Benedict (born 1747, died 28 July 1785 in North Canaan [but I suspect this was really New Canaan rather than North Canaan, based on the town histories], Connecticut).  Together they had Oliver (after 1765 - 10 Dec 1813), Ebenezer (25 June 1768 - 1856) and Benjamin Harlow (1772 - 29 Oct 1848).  With a family begun and events afoot to change the governance of the colonies, Oliver sought to ensure the future of the land on which he had settled. 

The elder Oliver enlisted sometime around 1 March 1776 (the pension record notes this date as approximate).  Oliver had enlisted under Capt. Coughrain, but was transferred when Coughrain was promoted to Major.  Oliver then served under Capt. Joel Dickerson in the Regiment commanded by Col. Samuel Elmore.  He served in the Regular Continental Troops until he was discharged in February 1777. 

Oliver appeared before Judge Isaac Sherwood on 26 August 1818 to apply for his pension.  As the judge wrote in his statement certifying the application, "the within named Oliver Hartwill [sic] is under reduced circumstances and stands in need of assistance of his Country for support."  The next page in the folder is the Perez Randall's, Chenango County Clerk, affidavit on the authenticity of Isaac Sherwood's statement, but dated almost a year later on 17 July 1819.  It is not stated what caused the delay in the folder.  So, on 4 January 1820, Oliver again appeared before Chenango County Judge Isaac Sherwood with Wyatt Chamberlin and John Smith as witnesses to vouch for his military service.  This application appears to have moved a little faster, as Judge Sherwood's signed affidavit was then certified by Perez Randall on 14 January 1820.

The next document in the folder is dated 20 October 1820 and makes reference to the 1818 application.  This affidavit has Oliver's signature and the signature of a different Deputy Clerk, Giles Chittenden.  More interesting was the next affidavit, that of the County Clerk, now a man named Nathan Chamberlin.  I wonder what the relation is between Nathan and Wyatt Chamberlin, one of Oliver's witnesses from 1818?  Whatever the relation, Oliver did get his pension approved, as evidenced by the cover page and reprinted on the next document in the folder; it was typewritten and dated 13 November 1934.  That document was written by A. D. Hiller, Executive Assistant to the Administrator [of the Pension Office], noting that Oliver's pension was approved on 25 August 1818, a date that seems a little odd since the first date written in the earlier records was dated on 26 August 1818.  The only other place this date appears is on the cover sheet pictured above.  So we know where A. D. Hiller got the date from, but why was this date the one that appeared on the cover page?  Were pension payments prorated back to the day before the application was made or are there other pages to the application that weren't in the folder?  I rather suspect it was the latter of these two options and the applications that we do see in the folder were renewals or further in-person confirmation that the veteran Hartwell was still living before payment was issued to him.  I have a copy of a pension folder for another veteran where payments were still made to the veteran's widow, but that's a story for another time and one that did not happen here.

The remaining documents in the folder consist of correspondence between the Pension Office and various researchers, including a representative of the Sons of the American Revolution, seeking to obtain copies or data from the folder.  But my favorite page from this folder is dated 12 April 1922, with a received date stamp of 17 April 1922; it's a request for information from the folder.  The request was written on letterhead from The Men's Shop (whose slogan is "'Exclusive but not expensive' - The most complete haberdashery in th' soutwest") in El Paso, Texas, and signed by one B. M. Freudenstein.

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