Apropos to this Veterans’ Day, I introduce the most extensive find from my research week in Salt Lake City: the complete file on 4th great-grandpa Philip Myers‘ (and later his widow Martha’s) application for a pension based on his service in the Revolutionary War.
Although it was well-known that Philip served, and several female descendants have proved it in their applications to the DAR, this 58-page file contains many details previously unknown to me, and corroboration of some vital statistics, from Philip’s own lips, under oath, no less!
In the early years following the Revolution, pension laws were very restrictive, only extending benefits to veterans who were invalid (disabled) or indigent (impoverished), and even then, only if they had served nine months or more. Since Philip Myers fit none of those categories, there was no pension available to him. But in 1828, a more favorable law was passed, with more to follow. The following information was taken verbatim from the American Revolution message board for genealogy.com. It was written and posted as message #3250 by Ed, a historian on the American Revolution.
The last and most liberal of the service-pension acts benefiting Revolutionary War veterans was passed on June 7, 1832 (4 Stat. 529), and extended to more persons the provisions of the law of May 15, 1828. The act provided that every officer or enlisted man who had served at least 2 years in the Continental Line or State troops, volunteers or militia, was eligible for a pension of full pay for life. Naval and marine officers and enlisted men were also included. Veterans who had served less than 2 years, but not less than 6 months, were eligible for pensions of less than full pay. Neither the act of 1832 nor the one of 1828 required applicants to demonstrate need. Under the act of 1832 money due from the last payment until the date of death of a pensioner could be collected by his widow or by his children.
Of course, by 1832, Philip Myers was 72 years old, and indeed, he died less than three years later, after which his widow was not eligible for continued benefits until the laws were further revised in 1848.
On July 29, 1848 (9 Stat. 265), Congress provided life pensions for widows of veterans who were married before January 2, 1800.
But we are getting ahead of the story. Beginning today, and continuing for one or two more posts, I will quote from and comment on Philip’s declaration to the Luzerne county court on 08 September, 1832.
(For an enlarged view of this introduction, click on the image. To view the entire three-page declaration, click here.)
State of Pennsylvania
County of Lucerne [sic]
On this eighth day of November 1832 personally appeared in open court, before the judges of the Court of Common Pleas of the County of Lucerne, state aforesaid, now sitting, Philip Myers, a resident of the Township of Kingston in said County, and State aforesaid, aged seventy two years, who being first duly sworn according to law, doth, on his oath, make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.
That he was born on the third of November 1759, near Mentz [sic] in Germany, on the river Rhine; that in the year 1766 he came to America with his parents and landed in Philadelphia where they resided four weeks* when they moved to the town of Frederick, County of Frederick in Maryland where he lived until the year 1785 when this applicant left Frederick and settled in Kingston where he now resides.
(* In the manuscript, the word “years” was crossed out and “weeks” written above, as if the judge or clerk had initially misunderstood, and then corrected himself.)
This paragraph confirms the published sources, which state the same birth date and date of immigration, probably based on this very document. Further, and not given in the sources, the port of entry is specified as Philadelphia. I had suspected as much, and will describe my research (inconclusive so far) in pursuit of that assumption in a later post.
Unfortunately, these documents do nothing towards the identification of Philip’s parents, a problem which has been vexing me for years. But they do provide a fascinating synopsis of Philip’s Revolutionary service, which I will launch into in part 2. Stay tuned.