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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mel Gibson thought so.
HWW 1995, Updated 2000
(1) Private John Martin of South Carolina Militia and
Georgia Continental Line