Tazewell County’s Revolutionary War soldiers

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Later this month, the nation will observe Monday, Feb. 15, the third Monday of the month, as President George Washington’s Birthday. The federal holiday today is commonly called Presidents Day since President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is Feb. 12 while Washington was born Feb. 11 on the old Julian calendar (Feb. 22 on the reformed Gregorian calendar). Washington is famed and revered as the first president of the United States of America, and also for his crucial role as the heroic commanding general of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

Almost all combat and military activity during the War of the Revolution took place within the borders of the 13 English colonies on the Atlantic seaboard. Illinois in those days was under the control of the British Crown, having formerly been a French colonial territory chiefly inhabited by Native American tribes and small groups of French fur traders. Compared to the great and memorable battles in the 13 colonies, military activity in the territory that would later become the state of Illinois was negligible. American Revolutionary forces did, however, succeed in seizing control of the Illinois territory through Col. George Rogers Clarks’ Illinois Campaign in 1778-1779, securing the western frontier of the nascent American republic against British attacks from that direction.

Though there were few American soldiers then living in the future state of Illinois, a large number of Revolutionary War veterans subsequently settled in Illinois and are buried here. One of the volumes in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room collection is titled, “Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in Illinois,” published by the Illinois State Genealogical Society as a part of the nation’s Bicentennial celebrations in 1976. This volume lists all Revolutionary War veterans known to be buried in the state. Among them are eight veterans buried in Tazewell County (none of them served directly under Gen. Washington, though).

To be clear, there are other heroes of the War of the Revolution who lived for a while in Tazewell County but moved on to other parts of the state, or to other states, and therefore aren’t buried in Tazewell County. However, these are the eight veterans buried in this county:

• Private James Campbell, died 1832 in Tazewell County, listed on Tazewell pension rolls
• Private Isaac Fletcher, born Oct. 26, 1763, in Westford, Mass., died Feb. 1838, married Ruth Pierce; served in Massachusetts as a substitute for his brother Levi who was ill; wounded and honorably discharged in 1782
• Private Elliot Gray, born Sept. 17, 1755 in Pelham, Mass., died March 1841, buried in Deacon Cemetery, Groveland, married Hannah Crawford; served in Massachusetts in the company of Capt. Elijah Dwight
• George Henline Sr., probably born in Virginia, died 1850, buried near son in Gilbert Cemetery near Armington; came to Hittle’s Grove, Tazewell County in 1828; fought in the Battle of Blue Licks, Ky., on Aug. 19, 1782
• Samuel McClintock, born 1763 in Augusta County, Va., died after 1840; served three times in 1781 in three different companies, was present at the Siege of Yorktown
• Private Norman Newell, born Aug. 28, 1761, died April 6, 1850, married firstly to Rosetta, secondly to Lucy Frisbee; served in the Connecticut Continental, in Capt. Ezekiel Curtis’ company, for eight months in 1777
• Private Levin H. Powell of Tremont, Ill., born 1763 in Loudoun County, Va., died Nov. 28, 1836, second wife named Elizabeth Cohagan; served in Virginia and South Carolina 1780-1783, discharged in Richmond, Va.
• Private David Shipman, born Aug. 15, 1765, in Virginia, died Aug. 11, 1845, buried in Antioch Cemetery near Tremont; served in 1780 in Capt. Robert Craven’s Rifle Company

The adventures of the last named Private Shipman and his manumitted former slave Moses Shipman were the subject of two previous From the Local History Room columns, on Sept. 21, 2014, and Jan. 4, 2014.

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#david-shipman, #george-washington, #moses-shipman, #revolutionary-war, #tazewell-county-history

More about Shipman and Mose

Here’s a chance to read again one of our old Local History Room columns, first published in January 2014 before the launch of this blog . . .

More about Shipman and Mose

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

About three months ago, we recalled a harrowing and heroic tale from the days of the early pioneers of Tazewell County – the story of how a group of Tazewell pioneers rescued a family of free blacks from a band of human traffickers who planned to sell them into slavery.

The story involved an early settler whom the early county histories know only as “Mr. Shipman.” It was the family of Shipman’s beloved African-American employee, known in the early histories only as “Mose,” who were kidnapped and rescued. We saw, however, that census records reveal that “Mr. Shipman” had the given name of “David,” while Mose – that is, Moses – had taken the surname of Shipman.

This latter detail indicates that Moses Shipman and his family had formerly been David Shipman’s slaves, as it was rather common for families of slaves to assume, or to be given, the surname of their masters or former masters. This is confirmed by a written recollection of J. O. Jones of Tremont, secretary of the Tazewell County Agricultural Board in Delavan. Jones, who was born around 1838, wrote in Aug. 1906, “Shipman brought Two families of Negroes about 1824 or 25 and set them free Giving Bonds for them.”

Jones’ recollections were transcribed and reprinted in the Feb. 2012 newsletter of the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society, page 337. Additional details about David Shipman and Moses Shipman can be found in the Oct. 2009 TCGHS newsletter, pages 2070-71, in David Perkins’ article, “Selected Items from David Shipman’s Probate Records,” which are preserved by the Tazewell County Circuit Clerk’s Office.

The article says, “David Shipman (circa 1760-1845) was a Revolutionary War Soldier buried in Tazewell County. This editor was looking through his probate records to find proof of place of burial. No mortuary records were found because at this time the family and neighbors usually bathed and dressed the body, as well as building the coffin and digging the grave. His probate papers were in a folder 8 ½ x 4 inches. It was about an inch thick. The will and many various sized papers were found.”

David Shipman probate document

Shown is a part of a document from David Shipman’s Probate file. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE TAZEWELL COUNTY GENEALOGICAL & HISTORICAL SOCIETY

The article highlights four of the documents from David Shipman’s probate file. The first document tallies up payments made from David Shipman’s estate to Moses Shipman – these payments, totaling $2,407, were reimbursement for Moses Shipman’s having taken care of David and his wife from 1831 to 1845, and to repay Moses for the cost of David Shipman’s coffin. The second document from the file is a statement that “David Shipman died August 11, 1845 after making his last will and testament filed herewith.” The third document is a receipt from the undertaker Willerson Richmond for David Shipman’s coffin. The fourth document is an inventory and appraisal of David Shipman’s property with a list of those who bought those items when they were auctioned off – Moses Shipman bought most of them at the auction.

Just from the story of the great lengths to which David Shipman and his pioneer friends went to rescue the family of Moses Shipman from the human traffickers, it’s evident that David Shipman and his former slaves must have maintained a close friendship. Their friendship again appears in these documents from David Shipman’s probate file, which tell us that Moses cared for David Shipman and his wife for several years, even handling funeral arrangements for David and buying much of David’s possessions at the estate auction.

The probate file does not, however, provide any evidence about where David Shipman was buried. For that information, we can turn to a 1917 book in our library’s Local History Room collection entitled, “Revolutionary Soldiers Buried in Illinois,” page 152, where we read that David Shipman was buried in Antioch Cemetery near Tremont. The Find-A-Grave website also lists Shipman as buried in Antioch Cemetery, listing his birth as Aug. 15, 1765 in Augusta County, Virginia.

It was in Virginia where David Shipman had served in 1780 in Capt. Robert Craven’s Rifle Company during the Revolutionary War. A summary of David Shipman’s war service is included in “Revolutionary Soldiers Buried in Illinois,” while a much more detailed account may be read in Shipman’s 1833 Revolutionary War pension file, available at Ancestry.com. The pension file’s account of his service confirms the 1917 summary, and indicates that he was born around 1766 in Rockingham County, Virginia. Swearing affidavits in support of Shipman’s petition for a pension were Peter Cartwright, James Harvey and William Brown. Moses Shipman does not appear in David’s war pension file.

#david-shipman, #human-trafficking, #moses-shipman, #preblog-columns, #slavery, #tazewell-county-history

A thwarted kidnapping: Shipman and Mose

Here’s a chance to read again one of our old Local History Room columns, first published in September 2013 before the launch of this blog . . .

A thwarted kidnapping: Shipman and Mose

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Among the many memories and anecdotes about the pioneer settlers of Tazewell County that were included in Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County,” one of them tells of a harrowing incident during the 1820s involving a white settler and his black employee.

The white settler was a man by the name of Shipman. Curiously, neither Chapman’s history nor Ben C. Allensworth’s 1905 updated county history mentions Shipman’s given name. Another source, the 1873 Atlas Map of Tazewell County, page 72, also mentions “Mr. Shipman” but is equally ignorant of his first name. The 1830 U.S. Census returns for Tazewell County, however, show him as “David Shipman.”

The Atlas Map says Shipman settled in Sand Prairie Township (then Jefferson Township) in 1822, but that date is incorrect, and Chapman provides the correct year of 1826. In Chapman’s account of the early settlers of Sand Prairie Township, page 617, he says, “Mr. Shipman came from Kentucky in 1826, but did not live in this township a great while. He moved from this into Elm Grove township, where he spent the remainder of his life.”

Chapman also mentions Shipman in his account of Elm Grove Township’s early history, on page 476, as follows: “There was another mill in Elm Grove, driven by tread-wheel power, using horses or oxen. Bolting was also done by hand here. Both mills did good work. The latter, Mr. Shipman’s mill, was running in 1830, how long previous, not known. A negro by the name of Mose was the miller.”

By that time Mose was a freed black, not a slave, and he was both employee and friend of Shipman. Just as the old histories do not record David Shipman’s first name, they also do not tell us Mose’s surname. The 1845 Illinois State Census records him as “Moses Shipman” (he’d taken the surname of his former master), and showed him as the head of a family of 10 “Negroes or Mulattoes.” On page 617-18 of his county history, Chapman relates an episode that occurred while Shipman and Mose were living in the former Jefferson Township, when the two had a run-in with a group of men who would kidnap free blacks and sell them into slavery:

“[Shipman] brought with him to this township a negro man, his wife and children. He treated them kindly, and they in turned loved him. They all lived here in peace and freedom, carving new homes in the wilderness, and preparing for future prosperity and pleasure.

“The quietude of the little settlement was disturbed one dark night, by the appearance of some slave hunters. There were some men from Kentucky came up the river, left their boats at the mouth of the Mackinaw, quietly came over and carried off the negro family. They were all tied and hastily run to the river.

“It appears that Mose, the name of the negro man, was a singularly constructed negro, and it would almost seem, as an old settler said, that ‘he was part aligator.’ (sic) He had a double row of large sharp teeth. His hands were tied, and with a rope he was led along. He pulled back considerably, and lagged behind as much as he dare do, all the while chawing on the rope by which he was led. Finally he succeeded in severing it, when with all his might he ran back to the settlement, and informed his neighbors of the theft of his family.

“This aroused the ire of those sturdy pioneers, and, being equal to any emergency, three of them saddled up their horses, that gloomy night and set out for St. Louis, anticipating the destination of the thieves. These resolute men were Johnson Sommers, Wm. Woodrow, and Absalom Dillon.”

Regular readers of this column may remember that Absalom Dillon was a brother of Tazewell County pioneer settler Nathan Dillion.

Chapman’s account continues: “They pushed on toward that city, and fortunately rode off the ferry boat just as the Kentucky would-be slave-traders landed with the family of Mose. This was a singular coincidence, but true, and with determination that plainly showed he ment (sic) what he said, Sommers jumped from his horse, gathered up a stone and swore he would crush the first one who attempted to leave the boat, and the men, who could steal the liberty of their fellow men, were passive before the stalwart pioneers.

“One of the pioneers hurried up to the city, and procured the arrest of the men. We do not know the penalty inflicted, but most likely it was nothing, or, at least, light, for in those days it was regarded as a legitimate business to traffic in human beings. The family was secured, however, and carried back to this county, where most of them lived and died. All honor to the daring humane pioneers.”

#david-shipman, #human-trafficking, #moses-shipman, #preblog-columns, #slavery, #tazewell-county-history