Deborah Sampson Lady Soldier of the Revolutionary War

Deborah Sampson was born 17 Dec 1760 in Plympton, Plymouth Co. MA. to Jonathon and Deborah (Bradford) Simpson. One of eight children, they lived in Middleborough, MA. Their father apparently deserted the family and went to Maine.  Her mother, destitute,  was forced to farm out the children to various family and friends.  At 10 years old she became an indentured servant on the farm of Deacon Jeremiah and Susana Thomas until she was eighteen. Not being allowed schooling, she talked the Thomas sons into teaching her to read and write. She did well enough that for a short time she taught school.  Among her Hobbies were hunting and horseback riding.

In 1780, she had the idea of enlisting in the Continental Army, since women were not allowed to do this, she disguised herself as a man, being 5ft 7in, she was tall for a woman and on 20 May 1782 she successfully enlisted in Uxbridge, MA using the name of her deceased brother Robert Shurtlieff Sampson on the muster of Master Noah Taft of Uxbridge, she was chosen for Light Infantry Co. of the 4th Mass Regt under the command of Captain George Webb, later in Worcester under Colonel Shepard.

She fought in several battles, put up with the hardships and deprivations that the rest of the soldiers did.  She was wounded severely in Tarrytown, NY, with 2 muskets balls to her thigh and a deep cut on her forehead. One of her comrades took her by horseback to a hospital 6 miles away. Afraid of being discovered she allowed them to dress her head wound, left the hospital and attend to one of the balls in her thigh with a penknife and sewing needle, the other ball was too deep and was never removed.  It caused her trouble for the rest of her life.

On 1 Apr 1783, she was promoted and spent 7 months serving as a waiter to General John Paterson.  This job entitled her to a better quality of life, better food, less danger and shelter.  However, after the Treaty of Paris in 1783, when it was thought that the war was over, she was sent to Philadelphia that summer to aid in the squelching of a rebellion. Deborah came down with a malignant fever and was cared for by Doctor Barnabas Binney, who upon removing her clothing discovered her secret. Dr. Binney did not betray her, instead took her to his house where she was housed and cared for by his wife and daughters.  When she recovered she returned to her army but not for long as the Treaty of Paris was signed in September. On 25 Oct 1783, after a year and a half of service, General Knox honorably discharged her from the army at West Point with some words of advice and enough money to sufficiently cover her expenses home.

On 7 April 1785 Deborah was married in Stoughton, MA to Benjamin Gannet, farmer, of Sharon, MA. They had 3 children and one adopted daughter.  Eight years after in 1792, she petitioned the Massachusetts State Legislature for pay which the Army had denied her because she was a woman.  It was passed,  signed by John Hancock and she was awarded a total of 34 pounds.   Her family ever in financial troubles, she again petitioned Congress for a pension as an invalid soldier, she was given a pension of $4.00 a month, finally in 1816 she was awarded $76.80 a year and was able to pay her debts and better care for the family farm.  Deborah died of Yellow Fever 29 Apr 1827. Her husband was able to receive her pension until he died in 1837.

There is a statue of Deborah on the grounds of the Public :Library in Sharon, MADeborahSampson fought in the revolutionary war


After 17 years, the search engine for genealogy sites, picosearch ended July 1st 2014. 

I know during my researches over the years I was always pleased when a website was using PicoSearch, you put in the last name of an ancestor and low and behold up would come a link to every family with that name on the website. Now the websites are scrambling to find another search engine as good as picosearch was.

Some websites use freefind or googlesearch. They are, in my opinion, not as good, but will have to do, at least for now.

Family Record Sample from the Library of Congress

Family Record Sample from the Library of Congress

One sample of family record


An Excerpt from the Battle of Fort Griswold, Groton, CT.

My 4th great grandfather Jabez/Jabish Pembleton was in the Rev War,. he was wounded in the hand, taken prisoner, sent to Long Island with 5 other soldiers, later traded or paroled ( both accounts are recorded) returned to rejoin his regiment. The death of Colonel Ledyard is written in Jabez’ Pension Records.

This is a narrative from the American side of the Battle at Fort Griswold.

“Only six of the Americans were killed in the fight, but after the surrender, the British officer in command, one Benedict Arnold, murdered Colonel Ledyard with the very sword that Col Ledyard surrendered to Arnold. Arnold refused to give quarter to the garrison, instead seventy-three were massacred.

Some were badly wounded and others were carried away captive. Some of the wounded were placed in a baggage-wagon at the brow of the hill on which the fort yet stands, it was sent down the rough and steep slope a hundred rods, with great violence, for the purpose of plunging the helpless victims into the river. This jolting caused some of the wounded to expire, while the cries of agony from the lips of the survivors were heard across the river in the midst of the crackling noise of the burning town   An apple tree had arrested the course of the wagon and there the sufferers remained more than an hour, when their captors laid them on the beach to die.  Friendly hands conveyed them to a house nearby, where they were cared for by tender women.”



New Start for our Blog

Dear Genealogy Club Friends,

Well here I am again. It is my hope that this time it will succeed. You can scroll down on the front page to read the posts, and there is also, towards the bottom, interesting links to free genealogy websites. Some or most of these you probably are aware of already. Welcome all of the new people who have joined or Genealogy Club this past year, they have made our meetings interesting with their contributions

I welcome any news, questions, or stories concerning genealogy you may like to share. We have members that are not able to attend our meetings so this blog is one way to keep them in the loop and give them a chance to participate.


Nan Whitcomb (nunzw15)

The Trials of Phoebe Covert

Phoebe was my g g grandmother, born 1835 Phoebe Platt in Susquehanna County PA.  She married Charles Covert October 6 1853 in Windsor, Broome Co. NY.  The young couple lived on a farm and started their family.  Elizabeth born Aug 1854, Julia Etta July 1856, James Mar 1858, Lyman Apr 1860, and Lucy Apr 1862.
Her husband Charles was itching to go to the aid of the Union and join his two younger brothers Abram and Benjamin, who had already enlisted in 1861.  So Charles enlisted Aug 19,1862,  leaving behind Phoebe and his five babies.  He first went to Gettysburgh where he was wounded in the head, but not seriously enough to be able to rejoin his company  to Alabama, where he soon contracted measles was hospitalized and died of congestive fever Mar of 1864.  Not knowing his two brothers had already died in 1862, his parents were left to mourn the loss of their only sons.
Phoebe received word that her husband was gone forever and she was left destitute with their five small children.  She applied for a pension but it was a very slow and  long process.  Phoebe had to prove that these children were the children of Charles and that she was married to Charles.  She traveled on horseback and walked to get her affidavits that were required. From the Minister that married them, her mother-in-law and her mother that attended the birth of her oldest daughter, (I might add here that her mother-in-law died soon after in 1866),  the doctor that attended the birth of her 2nd and 3rd children, her mother who attended the birth of her 4th and 5th children.  Phoebe also had to get affidavits from others to verify that these folks that signed the affidavits were honest and trustworthy people.

By now Phoebe was overwhelmed and finally had to put her precious children in a Home far away in New York City when she could no longer care for them.  Her own sister had died in childbirth, so her mother could not help her, and both of Charles parents had died.  Although Charles grandmother was still living, she was not well enough to help her either.  The government required a guardian by law for the children and she asked Charles’ Uncle Lyman Welton to be guardian.  Women were not allowed at that time to handle financial matters.  Phoebe was finally to receive monthly pension of $8. for herself and $2. for each of her children.  By 1870 Phoebe was desperate so when a proposal of marriage came from a widower with a young daughter who promised to help her retrieve her children she decided to remarry even knowing she would lose her own pension, but when the money for the children came he would not help her.  In 1872 Phoebe then turned to Uncle Lyman for help, she left her husband and was at long last reunited with all but her oldest daughter Elizabeth. The whereabouts of Elizabeth is a mystery as no researcher has found her to this day.

They were all together in the Binghamton NY census as of June 1880 but Phoebe died suddenly in July of 1880 at 45 years of age.   Her mother lived another 12 years and they are buried side-by side.
Phoebe’s son James had disappeared by 1895 it is said that he went west,  Julia married and had 3 children,  Lyman married and had one son, and Lucy married but was unable to have any children.  Perhaps one day we will find out what happened to Elizabeth.

My g g grandmother Phoebe is a hero to me for the struggles and heartaches that she endured and she never gave up.

The Endurance of Elizabetha – Elizabetha Pfeiffer Bell

Elizabetha Bell born 1731, married Johannes Bell, whose parents were among those who died in the Andustown Massacre July 18 1778 in Herkimer County NY.

The year was 1758 in German Flats in Herkimer County NY, that spring word came of an immenent attack by the Onondaga Indians. Captain Herkimer sent word to all residents to come into Fort Harkeman for protection. Joahnnes and Elizabetha with two of their children, one an infant, first went into the woods to drive in their cows. They were surprised by indians who killed Mr. Bell and the two children before Elizabetha’s eyes. Elizabetha was scalped, her nose nearly cut off and grievously wounded in her breast and thigh.  During the night she revived and somehow found it within herself to crawl some distance to the fort. The ladies at the fort stitched her nose back together, tended to her wounds and nursed her through her recovery and the birth three months later of a daughter Catherina. Scarred, but indomitable Elizabetha forever more wore a little black cap to cover her head wounds and a small soft spot that was always sensitive.

On the 13th of December 1761, Elizabeth remarried a widower with a large family, by the name of Theobold Nellis. Elizabetha gave him 2 more children.  Her surviving children by Johannes Bell were: Maria, Andrew, Frederick and Thomas, and of course the babe Catherina.

Elizabetha lived 32 years after the terrible bludgeoning. Going down into the cellar one day, she struck the soft spot on her head on a beam and this was believed to have caused her death soon after.

This is an exerpt from the story written by her descendant Sharilyn Whitaker.  You can read all about Elizabetha on the website in the previous story about Nancy Van Alstine.

Nancy Van Alstine – Guardian of the Mohawk

The Mohawk Valley is a beautuful, fertile and quiet place today, 1876. However, 100 years ago the scene was quite different. Fierce indians waged incessant war on the frontier settlers, New Englanders, Dutch and Germans, mostly the latter, who were a brave, hardy and steadfast people. Woman’s tact, presence of mind, courage, firmness and valor were the mothers of the Mohawk Valley.

One in particular was Nancy Van Alstine, born near Canajoharie abt 1733.  At age 18 she married Martin VanAlstine. Here dwelling in the midst of alarms and danger, she raised 15 children. Nancy lived up into her 90′s. More than once she saved the lives of her husband and family.

In the month of August 1780, an army of indians and Tories attacked many of the settlements in this valley. When word came that there would be an attack on their own settlement, Nancy gathered her neighbors and relieving them of their fears, urged them to remove their effects to an island owned by her husband near the opposite side of the Mohawk River. Seven families quickly taking a store of provisions and other articles essential to their comfort, removed to their asylum on the island with Nancy being the last, hid the boat from any view of the indians. About an hour after their retreat, they watched in horror as their homes went up in flames. The voices and words of the indians could be distinctly heard from the island. To Nancy VanAlstine’s amazement, her home, being built of stone, was spared and Nancy, being a Christian woman, rejoiced that she would be able to give shelter to the homeless families by whom she was surrounded.

This is just an exerpt of the full story about Nancy. The source of the story is from William W. Fowler “Woman on the American Frontier”. You can read more at the following link:

Greetings Again

I know I have not been on here for a while and I am sorry about that. The last few months have been very hectic, what with the 1940 census, my own research, cleaning up around my yard in the spring and getting used to this new computer or I should say to Windows 7 Pro. It took me 2 weeks to get my old family tree program to work in Windows 7. Although I still run into issues, it is coming together.

I thought I would start a series about Womens roles in the settling of America and their bravery in the wilderness. I have found some interesting stories about these women while doing my own research.

If anyone would like to add a post on a woman they have been researching, please feel free to add a post of your own. Or if you have a problem getting onto this site to do it, just e-mail me and send it to me and I will be happy to add it.

There will be no meeting this month, but we will continue the last Wednesday in August.

Re: The 1940 Census

Hi everyone!!!

Ooops sorry I wrote Jim Brophy, it is Michael Brophy.

Our meeting on the 28th was very enlightening, Michael Brophy gave a great presentation on the 1940 census, with lots of  hints on finding your ancestors or family.  I would like to share some of them with you especially for those members that could not be there. I have already been busy doing my homework to get prepared for Monday the 2nd of April.

If you know where your folks were living in 1930 and 1940, particularly if they were still in the same place in 1940, you will need to check the 1930 census and get the District number from the image, this is what you will need to find people in the census. When you open the actual census record, the District is above the image, it is also in the image. for instance one of my family members lived in District 42 but in the image it reads 4-42, so check both places. When you click on the District number above the image other districts will be listed too (at least in

Also start checking the city directories for 1940, they will tell you what street they lived on. These directories also list the streets alphabetically with Cross Streets very important. Interview living relatives to pinpoint where your people lived in 1940.

One new thing in the 1940 census is it will have a circled x for the person giving the information to the enumerator. There are many more questions asked in this census than the other census.

Here is a good preparation site:

I will welcome any questions or comments. For the first time I will be in this census, so I am excited…sort of…. I don’t remember where we lived then, except it was in the Binghamton, Broome Co. NY area.

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