Williams Family from Evansville, Indiana

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Ancestors of Walter Williams during

the American Revolution


This paper summarizes the basic relationships of the who we believe to be the ancestors of Walter C. Williams in the American Revolutionary War. There is not a lot of information in this regard. Therefore the relationships summarized are primarily physical and geographical. We can only speculate on the emotional impacts and relationships that would be of great interest.

It is hoped that this summary and the raw data that it is based on will be a start toward finding further details. It will probably be left to the grandchildren and great grandchildren to find and fill in more information on the subject. To confirm some information and replace others. It is known that one ancestor of Walter Williams (named John Martin from South Carolina) fought in the Revolution. It is highly likely that many more also served and that many of them have documentation in the National Archives and private letters in the homes of their descendants. It just takes determination to unearth these interesting facts. The effort is often very rewarding.

In the year 2000, five years after this white paper was written, a movie was made starring Mel Gibson called "Patriot". It parallels this paper in many ways because it was the story of a man named Martin who lived in South Carolina and fought in the Revolution. I recommend it to you especially after reading this.

Although the Revolution happened over 200 years ago, the trail of information gets colder each year. It is therefore hoped that documents like this will spur interest to save that data before it dies. Lest anyone say it was too long ago, consider that Walter C. Williams has already lived 41% of that time. It doesn't seem like a long time to him.

Importance of the Revolution

The American Revolutionary War was the single most important event ever to take place in the Western Hemisphere. Arguably it was the most important event in the World excluding Christ's birth . Religious and political freedom, among others, throughout the world can be traced distinctly to that revolution. France, Europe, Russia, Japan, Asia, and most of the rest of the world owe their freedom and concept of freedom to that revolution. Strangely, this has not been fully felt until late in the twentieth century when Walter and Marie Williams and their children and grandchildren have witnessed the breakup of the U.S.S.R. and reforms in much of the rest of the world including China.

Importance of the Southern Campaign

The American Revolutionary War can be thought of as taking place in two distinct phases. The first is the series of battles mostly around New York and Philadelphia over the three year period from Spring 1775 to the Autumn of 1778. This first phase resulted in a stalemate with the British who controlled New York City and its environs. The British strategy at that point changed drastically. For the second and final phase of the war the British decided to take the war to the southern states. Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia were the two major cities in the south and were the sole points of attack. They were planned to be taken by British land and sea forces under Cornwallis who then would move north through the Carolinas. As they would move north they planned to win battles against the patriots, stir Loyalists to join the forces, capture arms, weaken and disperse Patriots, and gain strength while moving to ultimately defeat General Washington in the New York area. This second phase lasted five years until 1783 but was effectively over at Yorktown, Virginia in December of 1881. By any measure, the war was mostly fought in the south and primarily in South Carolina.

Two major factors scuttled the British plan. First , by the time Cornwallis got through the Carolinas and into Virginia, he was weaker not stronger. This was because of being weakened by the South Carolina and Georgia Militias and also due to the entry of the French into the fray which in turn was made possible by the defensive action of those southern patriots. This was very difficult because the patriots had to fight British, Loyalists, British mercenaries and hostile Indians. The British also made two costly blunders which are described later. A second major factor is the French contribution to the effort particularly near the end. It can be argued as to how benevolent the was but it cant be argued as to it's impact on the outcome. Nearly half the forces that converged on Cornwallis at Yorktown were French, by both land and sea.

The result of the British taking the war to the south was their own weakening and being placed in a position where they could be trapped. Cornwallis never made it to New York as he planned. Instead General Washington had to come down to him through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and part of Virginia.

The military action of the South Carolina and Georgia militias of the Continental Army which absorbed the brunt of the British and wore them down over 1779, 1780, and 1781 were a major factor in the Revolution. If this seems like a biased Southern view of the Revolution it is probably because Revolution history has mostly been written by "northerners" for the consumption mostly of the more populated north. Lexington, Concord, Bunker Hill and Valley Forge and the other northern battles were extremely important but it is no exaggeration to say they only contained the British- the British were worn down and defeated in the southern states. Pointing out these facts serves two purposes in this paper. First, it helps correct biases and, second, it sets the stage for describing the known interrelations of our ancestors with the Revolution.

Our Ancestors and the Revolution

Our ancestor John Martin of the South Carolina Militia and later the Georgia Militia, each of the Continental Army under General Washington, helped defend the two major areas of British attack and also participated in fights against the Loyalists and the Indians.

Others of our known ancestors of the time lived in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Their proximity to the major battles, if not their actual participation, should be of interest to we the descendants now living.

At the outset of the American Revolution, the known ancestors of Walter Williams lived in the 13 British Colonies in America. John Martin is by far the best documented- because of his war service and pension records. It would probably not take a great deal of effort to find other ancestors that fought in the Revolutionary War.

Other relatives from Revolutionary times include the parents of Elkanah Williams that probably lived in Pasquotank County, North Carolina. Also, Moses and Susanna Darnall of Faquier County, Virginia that is currently a suburb of Washington D.C. Finally, there were William's of Pennsylvania that were relatives of John Martin's wife Druscilla Williams. We have no firm data on those William's at that time period.

John Martin's Revolutionary war service spanned 1778 to 1783 and included action in South Carolina Militia and the Georgia Militia. At the outset of the Revolution in 1775 he was about 16 years old and was probably working for his father. We do not know anything of his vocation at any part of his civilian life but it is a safe bet that he was a farmer considering the nature and state of development of the area in which he lived. Many of the farmers grew vegetables and cotton and many had slaves. His wife-to-be Druscilla Williams was only about 4 or 5 years old at that time. John Martin was the maternal grandfather of William Williams who fought for his country in the Civil War.

The paternal grandfather of William Williams was Elkanah Williams of Pasquotank County, North Carolina. Elkanah was born about 1780 and later moved to Nash County North Carolina and subsequently to Posey County, Indiana. Although we don't know of his parents, they were probably alive during the war and likely lived in Pasquotank County also. Pasquotank is a seacoast county landward of the outer banks that protect much of the Carolina's. Kitty Hawk is on that sandy outer bank less than 40 miles from Pasquotank and of course is the site of man's first flight 127 years after the start of the war. Pasquotank County is also less than 20 miles from the border of Virginia and about a half day buggy ride from Williamsburg, Virginia where Patrick Henry favored death over living under the British and ignited the flames of liberty and war. Although Elkanah was too young to know much of the war, certainly his parents did. Especially in 1781 near the end of the war. In that year Cornwallis' troops marched northward through eastern North Carolina into Virginia and finally to ( adjacent to Williamsburg) where he was defeated to essentially end the war. That march went past Pasquotank County while at the same time a part of the French fleet was maneuvering of the coast, less than a hundred miles away, to prevent Cornwallis' reinforcement. A half day buggy ride would have taken Elkanah's parents to see the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia if they were so inclined.

Another branch of the Williams family lived in Virginia during the Revolutionary War. It relates to Walter Williams' paternal grandmother Feriba Ann (Darnell) Williams. She was the wife of civil war veteran William Williams. Feriba's great grandfather was Moses Darnall (note the slight difference in spelling over the years). Moses was born in 1755 in Faquier County, Virginia. His parents were also born there. It is there that he met and married Susanna Massey. Much research has been done on the Massey family back to the 15th and 16th Century in England. Moses Darnall was 20 years old at the outbreak of the war. Many young Virginians were sent north to help General Washington in the war Some were also sent to South Carolina in the later stages of the war. In any event it is likely that he served in that war. His history has not yet been researched.

The Darnall families in Fauquier County, Virginia were located only 30- 50 miles west of Washington D.C. and quite close to the current location of Dulles International Airport. The war did not come close to them until near the end. Cornwallis surrender at Yorktown, in the Williamsburg area of Virginia, occurred only about 100 miles south from the Darnalls as the crow flies. George Washington's troops passed close to, or through, the Darnall's township on the way to force Cornwallis' surrender which effectively ended the war.

Returning now to relatives that lived then in South Carolina. Daniel and Cassandra Williams were parents of the Druscilla Williams that married John Martin. We have legal documents of theirs from the Newberry, South Carolina Courthouse which are very interesting and give a little glimpse of their lives two centuries ago. A book in the Mormon Library in Salt Lake City also discusses their history. It traces their lineage, albeit somewhat loosely, back to Roger Williams - the founder of Rhode Island. Documents in the Newberry Court House link John Martin with Daniel and Cassandra.

Daniel was only about 10 years older than John and he may have served in the militia also but there is no mention of it in the record. We know that Daniel and Cassandra later owned a cotton plantation and had several slaves. This was on the Bush River between the Broad and Saluda Rivers in Newberry County. Daniel was probably about 25 years old at the outbreak of the war. Daniel's father Daniel Sr. also lived in the area and was originally from Philadelphia. It seems certain that both Daniels would have had special interest in the war due to the Philadelphia connection which likely included relatives still there. Interest must have peaked when people were shot in the streets there and when battles got close. John and the two Daniels saw or knew of much of the fighting in South Carolina. That is because much occurred in that area between Charleston/ Savannah on the southeast and the Indian country to the east and northeast.

The war in New England at Concord and Lexington must have seemed far away in the summer and fall of 1775. But just seven months after the "shot heard round the world" fighting erupted just twenty miles away at a village called Ninety-Six where a stockade existed on an old Indian road (96 miles from the Indian land). Major Andrew Williamson commanded a small group of 562 patriots that had gathered at this important crossroad to defend the area. They were attacked by about 1900 Loyalists (colonists that were loyal to the British). As an aside this is almost certainly the Williamson that later became a General in the Continental Army and a superior officer over Pvt. John Martin in 1778. The stockade at old Ninety-Six had no water so they dug a 40 ft well in only three days through the Carolina clay and while under fire. The Loyalist attackers heard that patriot reinforcements were on the way and agreed to a truce.

Within several months of that battle at least a half dozen campaigns were mounted by patriots within about a 70 mile radius of the Newberry area. At this point John Martin is about 15 years old and the younger Daniel about 25. By the end of 1775 South Carolina is at peace and the pro-British Loyalists are fully in check.

By March of 1776 South Carolina's newly formed Congress passed it's founding State Constitution. That June, the fort on Sullivan's Island in the Charleston area was attacked by British Generals Cornwallis and Clinton down from their positions in Boston. In spite of 270 British cannons on their attacking ships and only 25 cannons of the patriots in the fort, the British casualty rate could not be sustained and they retreated with 200 casualties. In July 1776, as the Declaration of Independence is celebrated, the Cherokees inland went on the warpath. Colonel Williamson was one of the leaders sent to quell the uprising. That took over a year.

The years of 1777 and 1778 were relatively peaceful. A significant occurrence in 1777 at South Carolina was that two leaders in the French army arrived in the State by ship to help fight the British. This will turn out to be very significant in the war because they were the Marquis de Lafayette and Baron de Kalb. Their help in the war is legendary and many streets, counties, cities and parks bear their names. For example, Walter Williams started raising his family on a street named Lafayette. In 1778 John Martin became 18 and old enough to join so he enlisted in the South Carolina Militia of the U.S. Continental Army. That December the British attacked and took Savannah, Georgia which is about 125 miles from Newberry. This was a part of the British master plan to move troops through the Carolinas into Virginia while signing up Loyalists to fight. With that accomplished they could move north and squash the rest of the Continental Army. This was the beginning of the major fighting in South Carolina and the series of battles that ended in Cornwallis surrender three years later and 100 miles north. Most of the fighting of the war was in the South and most of that was within 100 miles of Newberry where our ancestors the Martins and the Williamses lived.

The Redcoats and their allies did a lot of plundering as they moved back and forth across South Carolina and into North Carolina. The famous British leaders Cornwallis and Tarleton led the major British attacks. They passed through the area that our relatives lived. Their main protagonist was the equally famous General Nathaniel Greene of Rhode Island whom General Washington had sent from the North to lead the battle in the South.

General Greene spent at least three years in South Carolina during the war.

By May 1780 the British had taken Charleston and had control of most of South Carolina. The patriots had only one intact regiment in the State at that point- Colonel Buford's Third Virginia Regiment. The British General Clinton made two blundering mistakes at that time. The first was to send General Banastre ( Bloody Ban) Tarleton and a legion of cavalry and troops, called Green Dragoons, to attack the Patriots. The second blunder was to decree that all South Carolinians must fight for the Crown. As a result, the war was back on in full force.

Bloody Tarleton passed within 20 miles of the Williams Plantation in his chase of Buford's troops. Half of Tarleton's men had horses, so to move quickly they rode double and caught Buford by surprise in the Waxaws area 40 miles from the Williamses at Newberry.

Bloody Tarleton massacred Buford's Regiment with bayonet and sword after Buford surrendered and asked for quarter ( to be taken prisoner ). In the confusion some of Buford's men kept firing giving the British a partial excuse. An excellent sketch of the battle was printed in Harpers Weekly on the 80th anniversary of the battle. Across the Atlantic the honored British painter Sir Joshua Reynolds created a striking painting of the young Ban Tarleton in his green waistcoat and foot high cap of fur and feathers with an aide restraining his spirited horse readied for battle. It hangs in the British National Gallery in London at Trafalgar Square. Walter Williams sons have seen the painting. It is striking and a memorable painting because of it's size and quality. Neither had any idea this impressive painting was of someone who had murdered countrymen and maybe relatives or their neighbors. Tarleton was certainly a hero in the eyes of the British. It would be interesting to find out what the British are saying about the Battle of the Waxaws in their history books.

The Jackson family that lived in the Waxaws area of South Carolina at the time of the battle in very much of interest. The mother helped treat the wounded that were left to die by Tarleton. Several years later in Charleston, as she continued her battlefield nursing calling, she became a Revolutionary War heroine. There on the plain of the Waxaws, 40 miles from our ancestral homes, she and her 13 year old son Andrew helped the remnants of Buford's Regiment. Little did anyone know that young Andrew Jackson would become the seventh President of the United States. One of a very few Presidents that worked on the battlefield to free the new country he would later lead. The only President to sustain severe wounds in the Revolutionary War, but we are getting ahead of our story.

A few months later young Andrew Jackson and his mother took a short trip to the scene of another battle at Hanging Rock. And a few months after that, to the August 16, 1780 major battle of Camden which is barely 20 miles from Newberry and the Williams and Martin homes. In that battle, the French Army cohort of the Marquis de Lafayette, Baron de Kalb, heroically led troops, fought, and died for the American cause of freedom so far from his native land. De Kalb was wounded in 11 places and died 3 days after the Camden battle. Everyone in South Carolina certainly heard quickly of the heroic leadership and terrible wounding of their adopted hero. We know that Andrew Jackson was there after the battle and probably witnessed his death. No one knew then that the fires of America's freedom would soon burn bright in France. De Kalb's name is honored widely over America to this day, especially in the South. It ironic but no great coincidence that John Martin's grandson William Williams would be wounded in De Kalb County, Georgia 84 years later.

On New Years Eve 1780 a battle was fought on the Williams Plantation in Newberry County (see page 227 of South Carolina, Battleground of Freedom ). We have no way of knowing for sure if this was our Williams (relative of John Martin's future wife Druscilla Williams).

On March 2, 1781 another battle in Newberry County was fought at "Mud Lick". Then another on the Bush River in May 1781. We believe Druscilla William's father and grandfather's plantations were on the Bush River. Walter Williams eldest son visited the area almost exactly 200 years later and found the Bush River to be barely a creek in the summertime.

In April of 1781 the now 14 year old Andrew Jackson was arrested with others of a Patriot group at a Waxhaws Meeting Hall and thrown into the Camden jail. There young Andy disobeyed a British officer's orders to clean the officer's boots. Andy is said to have pronounced " prisoners of war should not be treated such". The angered British officer drew his sword and dreadfully gashed Andy's head and the hand Andy used to try to protect himself.

Much later President Andrew Jackson, still bearing scars, recalled " They kept me at Camden about two months, starved me nearly to death, and gave me small pox....when it left me I was a skeleton not quite six feet long and a little over 6 inches thick".

Remember all this happened not 40 miles from our ancestral homesteads although by 1781 John Martin had moved from there to about 60 miles west to Wilkes County, Georgia.

It is certainly no coincidence that John Martin's Great Grandson, the Father of Walter C. Williams, was named Andrew Jackson Williams. It was likely not just a matter of being named for a President.

Also in April 1781, about 50 miles southeast of Newberry, a part of General Nathaniel Greene's troops under General Francis " Swamp Fox " Marion and Colonel " Light-Horse Harry " Lee ( Father of General Robert E. Lee) laid siege to Fort Watson. This fort was a small but well fortified stockade built on top of an Indian mound where attackers could not fire effectively on anyone in the fort. Neither the Swamp Fox nor Light-Horse Harry had cannon with which to lob cannon balls into the fort.

The ingenious Yankees cut and notched logs in a preplanned way. Then in the middle of the night they used them to erect a 60 feet high log battle tower above the fort with built in protected shooting positions. At dawn, the Patriots on the tower laid down such deadly fire that the startled British could not defend themselves and were forced to surrender.

Swamp Fox Marion got his nickname by fighting the British in the riverine swamps. He would strike boldly with cavalry and infantry and retreat into the swamps. A favorite hiding place was Snow's Island on the Great Pee Dee River ( the same as John Martin refers to as his birthplace). The Swamp Fox also used the Santee River swamps as well.

His men were poorly fed and were unpaid.

The renown American poet, William Cullen Bryant who wrote "Thanatopsis" as a teenager, penned a poem of the Swamp Fox "Song of Marion's Men" as they fought in South Carolina near our ancestors. A selected portion is replicated here:

Our band is few, but true and tried,

Our leader frank and bold;

The British soldier trembles

When Marion's name is told...

Grave men there are by broad Santee,

Grave men with hoary hairs,

Their hearts are all with Marion,

For Marion are their prayers...

Our fortress is the good green wood,

Our tent the Cypress tree;

We know the forest round us,

As seamen know the sea.

And lovely ladies greet our band

With kindest welcoming,

With smiles like those of summer,

and tears like those of spring.

For them we bear our trusty arms,

And lay them down no more,

'Till we have driven the Briton

Forever from our shore.

By May 1781 most of the British posts in South Carolina had fallen to the Americans. There was one last British stronghold- the town and fort , previously mentioned , Ninety Six. It had become a strategic British garrison on the frontier. General Nathaniel Greene lead the final attack personally. There were 550 Loyalists under Colonel Cruger of New York. The stockade was strengthened by a star shaped earthworks with eight points. The defense was one of the most effective of the war. General Greene had earthworks of his own for a more effective attack. He tried a log tower, flaming arrows and tunneling to no avail. Greene was reinforced by General "Light-Horse Harry" Lee from Augusta, Georgia. The Loyalists were not able to get a new well dug in the clay and were out of water. Cleverly they sent naked negroes out in the black of night to get stream water in skins.

General Greene received word that 2000 Britons had just arrived from England and were being sent to Ninety Six. Greene made a final all out assault which failed. He retreated northwest beyond the Saluda River to Newberry County. The newly arrived British destroyed the fort and only the well diggings remain to this day. The British headed back to Charleston.

At this point General Greene had to get a message to General Sumter about British movements. The message had to be carried though the midlands were many Loyalists would ambush Patriot messengers. There is a legend of Miss Emily Geiger who at the age of 18 convinced General Greene she had the best chance of getting a message through- in her bodice. She was captured and taken to British Headquarters. for questioning.

While the British were finding a woman to search the girl, Emily managed to memorize and eat the message. Ultimately she delivered the message to Sumter. This story, real or fancied, also occurred in Newberry County or very close to it. Our relatives of the time who lived there certainly felt in the middle of the action.

Over the three year period since Spring 1778 the American Revolutionary War was being fought almost entirely in the Carolinas and mostly within one hundred miles of Newberry County. The Carolina battles lasted longer in calendar time than the battles in New England and New York and were more decisive by culminating in the retreat of Cornwallis to Yorktown where his surrender spelled defeat for the British.

Private John Martin of the South Carolina Militia, U.S. Continental Army

John Martin was born on the Great Pee Dee River in the British Colony of South Carolina in 1759. We know nothing of his ancestry other than a story of his father (also John Martin) from old letters of relatives microfilmed in the National Archives. He signed up in Newberry Township of Newberry County, in the two year old State of South Carolina, in the Summer of 1778. Of course England did not consider it a State. King George III was willing to continue to wage all out war to keep it his Crown Colony.

To have that name Martin indicates several things. His ancestry was certainly Welsh or English. Also, he was surrounded by many other people of the same surname in South Carolina. There were a great many Martins and Williamses in this new State as the old maps of the area with family names marked on each plantation attest. Land he owned would probably have been granted to him or his ancestors by King George as incentive to develop this thriving one-time Colony. Obviously that didn't keep him from going to battle against the King.

The Great Pee Dee River has the appelation "Great", not due to it's size, but because one of it's tributaries is the Little Pee Dee. It flows out of the Appalachian Mountains that border Tennessee and North Carolina and is called at that point the Yadkin River. It changes to the Pee Dee midway across North Carolina where it is currently dammed by two large dams. As it flows through South Carolina it is largely unseen because of the dense forests that surround mush of it's banks. It is the major river of eastern South Carolina. A very brief study of old maps in the Florence, SC library showed there were some Martin plantations in the area.

John Martin entered the South Carolina State Militia as a Private in the Summer of 1778 at the Newberry County Courthouse in District Ninety Six. The war up to that time must have had a profound effect on John and a summary is in order here. The South Carolina Militia first organized in June of 1775. In September 1775 John was 16 and the battles in New England had recently started. That month a revolutionary group took over Fort Johnson and raised a flag imprinted with the word "Liberty". It was later replaced by the rattlesnake flag we all remember from our history books that had the words " don't tread on me".

After that, the first battle in the Colony of South Carolina was in Charleston November 1775, just seven months after the "shot heard round the world." No one was hurt.

Newberry was generally in between the rural British Loyalist strongholds of Northwest South Carolina and the more revolutionary areas of Charleston and the coast. The Newberry area was heavily English-Scotch- Irish by background but almost all the people were against British taxes.

In November 1775 the first Southern blood of the war was shed at the fort of Ninety Six, just 27 miles from where the 16 year old John Martin lived. This was the second battle of the war occurring in South Carolina.

Returning to Pvt. John Martin, he was "first sent to Stono Point to fight the British under Major Gillam". We know this from the war records. There were "a few fights with the Tories on the way" (Tories were the English political party that supported the King so Loyalists in America were also called Tories). We aren't told where Stono Point is but the most probable location is a sharp 120 degree bend in the Stono River west of Charleston about four miles from town. It is also only eight miles from what is now Fort Sumter, the spot on which the Civil War started. Pvt. Martin spent "about three months there". This action was only about 140 miles from his home.

We have not researched the fighting in that time. There were battles in that general area and in particular the Winter of 1778-79 saw more significant battles at Port Royal (about 50 miles southwest) and in June there were battles called Stono River and Stono Galley Fight. We do not know if John participated. Pvt. Martin was discharged in late 1778 after serving his tour under Colonel James Williams, the Revolutionary War hero.

He stayed at home for six or eight months.

He then was drafted again in mid-1779 for six weeks to fight the Creek Indians. This fighting was "with the Georgia Militia at the Ogeechee and Aconee Rivers". This confluence is midway between what is now Atlanta and Augusta in Georgia. It is now Oconee National Forest off Interstate 20 and south of Athens. It is just forty miles west of what is now the U.S. Army's Fort Gordon where John Martin's descendant Kevin Williams served over a hundred years later. It is also about 140 miles west-southwest of John's home in Newberry. During that tour he "served under General Williamson a reputed Scotsman"- another hero of the Revolutionary War.

John Martin then moved to Wilkes County, Georgia about 50 to 70 miles west-southwest from Newberry. He was likely still a bachelor at that time and was about twenty years

old. John must have liked the frontier Wilkes County when he passed through on his tour of fighting the Indians. He lived there about a year.

Private John Martin of the Georgia Continental Line

John Martin "enlisted at Ebenezer (near Savannah) to serve in the Georgia Continental Line" probably in late 1780. He served under Captains McIntosh and Lucas and Major Habersham. Pvt. Martin helped guard the key city and port of Savannah, Georgia. He was also "sent to Rula (or perhaps Bula) Island to guard Colonel Morrell's place". We have not found Rula Island nor have we looked diligently. There are many hundreds of islands near Savannah.

John Martin served "about two years" in the Georgia Continental Line and was "discharged in Savannah in 1783 when peace was made". The two year reference might have been more like three years to make the timeline fit. We know the British captured Savannah in December of 1778. The British again attacked and took Savannah in September of 1779 under Generals Cornwallis, Clinton and Tarleton and on the way to Charleston. It is likely that John spent his time guarding against a British breakout to the north and west rather than guarding Savannah against attack from the sea. There is much more to be learned about his service in that area and in the earlier areas of service. One would expect that from the time of Cornwallis surrender in late 1781 to the Paris Peace Treaty of 1783 there was little if any fighting that Pvt. John Martin experienced.

At some point in time, after the war, John Martin moved to Christian County, Kentucky about 16 miles west we believe from the city of Hendersonville. This would be just across the Ohio River from Posey County, Indiana which is where he moved to in March 1832.

The author made a note from data in the Mormon Salt Lake City Library that the Daughters of the American Revolution Patriot Index lists John Martin 1759-1826, Private in South Carolina and Georgia Militias, married to Druscilla Williams and was pensioned. The author has not confirmed this. If it is true, female ancestors of John Martin would find it easier to apply to membership in the DAR should they so choose. We believe that John Martin died in 1835 according to a Jennie Martin letter of 1917. The DAR date of 1826 may be true. There is a record that John Martin made a claim in 1826 to the Pension Commissioner that he did not yet receive the warrant for the bounty land owed him.

John Martin applied for a pension extension on September 18, 1834 in Henderson, Kentucky and requested it be paid to a Louisville bank to the attention of Thomas Posey, Esquire. We don't know the outcome of that request. He probably crossed the river to apply because there were better witnesses there for him to use.

John Martin Sr.- Father of Pvt. John Martin

There are interesting stories in letters to the War Department and now in the National Archives about John Martin's father - John Martin, Sr. The most specific is a letter to the War Department Commissioner of Pensions on February 16, 1926 from one of his descendants. The letter is microfilmed in the service record file of the National Archives under John Martin, Ga/SC - Number S.16459. The descendant that wrote the letter is Mrs. W. M. Floyd of 422 Main St. Henderson, Kentucky. This is the city directly across the Ohio River from Evansville, Indiana. It is also the city John Martin moved to when he left Georgia. In this 1926 letter she relates information regarding the Martin's that came in turn from a letter of her uncle's who was born in 1820. This uncle was 15 years old when John Martin died. He should be a fairly credible source. According to Mrs. Floyd he related the following:

The elder John Martin was given a grant of land which was afterwards confirmed by the territorial government. The grant was for services rendered to George Washington while fighting under him in the French and Indian War and at the time of Braddock's Defeat. The grant was for Blennahazard Island (this must be Blennerhassett) near Cincinnati. The grant was passed to the elder John Martin's oldest son Thomas Martin and in turn to Thomases oldest son.

Several general checks on the credibility of this story are of interest. There is an island upstream of Cincinnati and south of Pittsburgh by the name of Blennerhassett. One of John Martin's great great great grandson's has visited Parkersburg, West Virginia on the Ohio River many times and ,although unaware of this story of his relative, has viewed the island several times from a restaurant on a hill south of Parkersburg. It is about 60 miles from Pittsburgh. The island is also a significant tourist attraction. It is about a mile and a half long with beautiful wooded hills and only a portion is relatively flat. In addition, there is a story of questionable repute that is advertised widely to draw visitors. The story involves clandestine meetings that occurred on the island with Benedict Arnold and others who plotted secession of some sort.

A cursory check of only one of George Washington's biographies indicates that about 1754 Colonel Washington at age 22 was put in command of the unsettled region beyond the Ohio River near Pittsburgh. About 100 South Carolina colonists arrived there in 1754 to support Washington. Their leader was a Captain Mackay. The next year two English Regiments under General Braddock were sent past the Ohio River to engage the French and were defeated.

Could one of those hundred South Carolinian colonists have been John Martin Sr.? This is four years before John Martin Jr. was born, so the timing is right. It was common for plots of frontier land to be deeded as a bounty for some who served in the war. Was John Martin a trusted aide to Washington? If so, such a deed would be credible. Blennehassett would certainly be considered wilderness. It also was of little value at that time because there was so little tillable land. John Martin would not have had to be a renown hero to get such a reward.

The closest town to the island is the only town in West Virginia named Washington. Every state in the Union has a town so named. However, it is logical that if Washington deeded the island to someone it is likely that a town nearby would be named for him. There are probably records that could clarify this.

There is a second letter in the National Archives in Washington D.C. by Frances Gabhart of Smith Mills, Kentucky (a suburb of Henderson) dated August 12, 1929. She doesn't mention the Floyd letter of 1926 but much of the information is the same. Gabhart states that John Martin Jr. acted as aide to Washington and was granted an island. This is obviously incorrect and obviously not derived directly from the Floyd letter since the error would be too gross.

In 1917 Miss Jennie Martin of Corydon, Kentucky wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Pensions which is now in the National Archives. The Gabhart and Martin letters are from the western outskirts of Henderson, are from only five miles apart, and are from points directly south from Diamond Island and Posey County, Indiana. Miss Martin states that she is a descendant of John Martin and that he died about 1835 and was buried in Henderson County. Also that John Martin's family bible was destroyed in an Ohio River flood. Also that a 1890 letter written by John Martin's wife's grandson states John Martin's wife was the daughter of Daniel Williams who also was an uncle of Jefferson Davis. The plot thickens.

Jefferson Davis has had many volumes of biography written about him. Only the one by Canfield was consulted so far. Mr. Davis was born in Kentucky in 1808. His father was Samuel Davis who fought with the rank of Captain in Georgia during the Revolution and obtained 1200 acres of bounty land. Jefferson Davis' mother was Jane Cooke who according to legend was niece of General Nathaniel Greene, the Revolutionary War hero from Rhode Island who spent about served about four years in South Carolina.

Comparing this data to that of Miss Martin's letter it seems that the main possibility for a connection to Davis is if Daniel Williams wife, Cassandra, was Jane Cooke's Aunt. Cassandra was born around 1750 probably in South Carolina. Jane Cooke would have been born between say 1760 and 1785. Considering timelines, Cassandra could have been Jane's Aunt and the 1890 letter may have meant to say that Daniel Williams was a great uncle of Jefferson Davis.

We have not been able to disprove that letters claim but we have not added much credibility either. If Samuel Davis fought in Georgia and then lived there after the war, it is certainly possible that he married a woman from the same family as Daniel Williams when you consider they probably lived within 40 to 100 miles from each other and both had Welch names.


This study is not concluded by any means. It likely is flawed in some respects. It is perhaps only the end of a new beginning in finding out where we came from and knowing more about our ancestors. The more we know of them, the more we know of ourselves. We hope you conclude that they seem to be a very interesting group.

Mel Gibson thought so.

HWW 1995, Updated 2000


Ancestors of Walter C. Williams During the American Revolution

American Revolutionary War - one of the most important events in history.

Fought mostly in the Southern Colonies where it was finally won.

Occurred over 224 years ago yet Walter C. Williams has lived 40 % of the time since.

His ancestors include four families in the Southern States during the War --

(1)  Private John Martin of South Carolina Militia and Georgia Continental Line

Served most of war - 1778 to 1783

Defended crucial areas - Charleston , Savannah and Georgia Indian Country

Fought against British General Cornwallis

Fought under National Heroes -

General George Washington (John's father may have been his Aide in 1755)

General Nathaniel Greene (hero of northern and southern campaigns)

General Williamson (hero of Georgia and Carolinas Campaigns)

Colonel James Williams (may have been a relative)

(2)  Daniel and Cassandra Williams of South Carolina

Many heroes fought in battles within 50 miles of them

Gen Greene, Light- Horse Lee (Robert E. Lee's father), Swamp Fox Marion,

Marquis de Lafayette, Andrew Jackson ( wounded by British at age of 14)

Old family letter in archives says related to Jefferson Davis

(3)  Elkanah Williams' Parents in Pasquotank, North Carolina

Father may have fought in North Carolina Militia

Lived within 50 miles of Williamsburg, Virginia where the flame was lit

Lived within 50 miles of Yorktown where it ended with Cornwallis' surrender

(4)  Moses Darnall's family outside Washington

He was age 20 at the outbreak of war and may have served

Lived within 100 miles of Williamsburg and Yorktown


Copyright 2001 Williams Family from Evansville, Indiana