Monday, August 11, 2014

Why It's Really Important to Use Primary Source Documents in Your Genealogy Research!

My ancestor JAMES WHITECOTTON, of the previous post, fought in the Revolutionary War as a private, for three tours of duty: first in 1776 enlisting with Capt William Fountain's Company of Infantry, joining Col Woolford's, which fought at the battle of Long Bridge, Williamsburg with a total term of service 1 year;  second, in 1778 with  Capt Leonard Helm's Co, Illinois Regiment, joining Col George Roger Clark, for a 9 month term of service; and third, in 1779 with Capt Joseph Bowman's regiment, Kaskaskia, Illinois, under Col George Rogers Clark, term of service 1 year. His total Revolutionary War service was 2 years, 9 months.  He never advanced beyond the rank of private.  And this information is from his own Revolutionary War pension application, which can be found in its entirety on the website Fold3.

I received a visit from a Whitecotton cousin yesterday who presented me with some written material (source unknown) showing that there was supposedly a second JAMES WHITECOTTON, who served as a lieutenant under Col George Rogers Clark in Illinois. This second JAMES WHITECOTTON was supposedly mentioned in the Revolutionary War Pension application of a man named Lt John Roberts, who also served with Col George Rogers Clark in Illinois. The reference cited was a book called "Brumbaugh's Revolutionary War Records, Volume 1, Virginia" by Gaius Marcus Brumbaugh, published Washington DC, 1936.

I found a copy of this book on, and found the reference on page 535:

ROBERTS, JOHN; Lieutenant, VA State Troops, Illinois Regiment; Capt Robt Todd's Company of Foot. (No. 8706, Pension Office, April 1852). Mentioned: Col (later Gen) Geo Rogers Clarke; payroll Robt Todd's Company;  Capt Benjamin Roberts; Capt Abraham Chaplin (Chapline);  Lt Anthony Crockett; Lt John Roberts; Ensign William Roberts, et al, of the Illinois Regiment; Gen G. R. Clark. Entire payroll of Capt Robt Todd's company. Lt Col Montgomery; also Stephen Chilton, "soldier", Col Joseph Crockett's Regt; Bland W Ballard; Wm Fleming; John Edwards; Thomas Quick; Maj Inf. James Meriwether, Light Inf;  Mark Thomas, Capt of Inf; Lt Joseph Slaughter; Lt James Slaughter; Lt Wm Clarke; Lieut. JAMES WHITECOTTON;  Henry Foster "soldier". 

Here is a transcription of the actual pension record, from the website "Southern Campaigns Revolutionary War Pension Statements & Rosters" for Lt JOHN ROBERTS; his widow SARAH HAWLEY ROBERTS later applied for his pension while living in Switzerland Co Indiana.

The Hon. Secy. of the Treasury
I am very respectfully your obedient servant S/ Jas. E. Heath
Upon the Petition of the heirs of Lieutenant John Roberts of the State line, for bounty
The evidence in support of this claim has been presented by the Petitioners

John Roberts was Commissioned, December 31st 1778, Lieutenant in a Company of Infantry in the Illinois Regiment, which company was commanded by Captain Robert Todd. The only Payroll, which has been preserved, of Captain Todd's Company, notices Lieutenant Ro. Roberts thus – "Roberts John Lieutenant – commissioned 31st December 1778 – went recruiting
1 Va. Half Pay See N. A. Acct. No. 874 050 144 Half Pay John Roberts 2
page1image30760 page1image30920
August 17th 1779, and never returned – charged with Paper-money which exceeds the amount of pay" (see Payroll of Captain Ro. Todd's Company – Vol. 1st Illinois Papers) this Payroll comes down to June 1780 at that time Lieutenant Roberts had not returned to his Company.
It appears, that on the 13th of August 1779, General Clarke [George Rogers Clark] issued his general orders, at Fort Patrick Henry in which is the following order, to wit, – "Officers for the recruiting service – Captains – Quirk, Evans, Taylor, Woothington, Kellan, Lieutenants – Roberts, Crockett, Ramsay, Calvet, Ensign – Montgomery" – (see Illinois Papers – Vol. 1st Division No. 2. D.)
Lieutenant John Roberts received, himself, December 10th 1785 a certificate for £129.19.8, the balance of his full pay, for services rendered in the Illinois Regiment, prior to January 1st 1782 – (See Army Register of the State line.)
In the printed list of officers &c of the Illinois Regiment &c No. 4, page 11 – I have reported Lieutenant John Roberts, entitled to bounty land for the war. My reasons for making this Report, I now presume, were the following – that Lieutenant Roberts was commissioned in 1778 – (December 31) – that he received a large sum of money & the balance of his full pay for services rendered before January 1st 1782 – that this proved, that the account given of his services, in Captain Ro. Todd's Payroll above referred to be showed that he was always engaged in the recruiting service – that I had not been able to find any [paper torn and one or more words of text are missing] of his resignation – that there was no proof of his desertion, or of his having been cashiered or suspended. – That Captain Ro. Todd's Company was in service until the end of the war – and that Lieutenant Roberts ought to be presumed to have served to the end of the war, notwithstanding the contents of the payroll above mentioned.
The above stated facts are all, whether supporting or invalidating the claim of Lieutenant Roberts' a heirs for bounty land, which I am able to report to the Governor. They are, without further comment, respectfully submitted
S/ John W Smith, Commissioner
November 4th, 1834 

And here is a copy of the original statement, from the website Fold3:

I have been through the entire pension file, both for JOHN ROBERTS and for his widow SARAH HAWLEY ROBERTS, and I have not found one reference to Lieut. JAMES WHITECOTTON.   Likewise, in the pension file of Private JAMES WHITECOTTON,  I have found no reference to JOHN ROBERTS. There was a JAMES WHITAKER, who signed as county clerk, in the John/Sarah Roberts pension file and I suspect that Brumbaugh mis-transcribed WHITAKER as WHITECOTTON. 

So in my opinion, based on the actual records, there was no second person called  "Lieut. JAMES WHITECOTTON" in the regiment of Col George Rogers Clark in Illinois, and the citation in the book was an transcription error on the part of  Gaius Brumbaugh.

In all other sources concerning Col George Rogers Clark's campaign in Illinois, JAMES WHITECOTTON is listed as a private. He received 108 acres from a 1781 land grant in what is now southern Indiana, that Col George Rogers Clark & his soldiers received from the state of Virginia. Lt. JOHN ROBERTS is on a list of Clark's men who did not receive bounty land from the 1781 grant.

If anyone has any further information or documents, I would love to see them!

Have a great day!


© Betty Tartas  2014

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