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Cyrus Cassidy #45437

interesting story about an ancestor

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Genealogy is a hobby of mine, and I've been doing it for over a decade.  In that time I've re-discovered a LOT of things about my own family that have been forgotten over the generations.  As a historian who studies the American Revolution and the Civil War, I focus my genealogical research in those two areas.  Thus far, I've uncovered nineteen patriot ancestors from the Revolution (plus one rotten Tory).  The one about whom I know the most was named Joshua Danforth; he was my 5th-great grandfather.

 

In 1775, Danforth was a 15 year-old corporal in his father's Massachusetts militia company.  On April 19th of that year, the battle of Lexington and Concord (i.e. "the shot heard 'round the world") happened; his company was one of many from the area to respond -- they were not on Lexington Green, but once word got around that redcoats had fired on Americans, thousands of militia units "self-mobilized" (a term created by me) and fought.  He was one of them.  

 

After the day-long battle, the British retreated to Boston and word spread throughout New England.  Militia men from all over self-mobilized and joined the Massachusetts units surrounding them -- this was illegal, as militias were not allowed to cross their colonial boundaries.  On June 14th, Congress decided all those militia units surrounding the British were a federal army known as the "Continental Army," and placed a Virginia militia Colonel named George Washington in command.  This is the birthday of the US Army.  Danforth was one of the men present.

 

The Battle of Bunker Hill happened shortly before Washington arrived.  After that battle, Danforth's father went home, but  Joshua remained on active duty.  Every year when his enlistment expired, he re-enlisted.  He did so for the ENTIRE EIGHT-YEAR DURATION OF THE WAR, and remained in the Continental Army until 1784, a year after the war ended, when Congress disbanded all but a select few.  

 

In my 20 years of research on the Revolutionary War, I have never found anyone besides Washington and his generals who stayed on active duty throughout the war; in fact, my ancestor was part of it LONGER than Washington himself by  few months.

 

What else do I know?  

 

- He kept a journal for one year during the war.  I read about it on a document that was over 100 years old, and spent three years sleuthing around the country to find it.  Eventually, I found myself in a suburb of Minneapolis on official duty for the Army, but had  a lead that the journal may have been in the possession of a distant relative there.  I went to his house, and he showed me the journal.  The owner is my 5th cousin, twice removed.  The journal covered the period when Benedict Arnold's treachery was discovered, and my ancestor was personally injured by it.  He referred to "That Traitor Arnold" while pressing his quill harder onto the parchment.  He also held Washington in very high regard, almost reverential, and his commitment to "The Cause" was monumental.  

 

- He served in the 12th Massachusetts Regiment from 1775-1781, during which time he was promoted to sergeant, and later lieutenant.  He was 19 when he became a lieutenant.

 

- In 1781 his regiment was folded into the 2nd Massachusetts, and he remained in this unit until 1784 as their Paymaster.  As Paymaster, his rank almost certainly remained Lieutenant.

 

- In later 1781 or early 1782, after the victory at Yorktown, he wrote a letter to the regimental commander recommending the soldiers be prevented from foraging off peoples' farms, tearing down their fences for firewood (a common practice), or trodding on farm fields.  He strongly stated that they could not be seen as an occupying army, and wanted to do everything possible to promote the virtue of the Continental Army to the people.  The letter is in the library at West Point and I have a scan on it, complete with his wax seal.  

 

- In addition to Lexington and Concord, I can prove that he was at Bunker Hill, Long Island, Saratoga, and the encampment at Valley Forge.  Although there was no muster role, it makes logical sense that he had to have been at Trenton (the famous crossing of the Delaware on Christmas).  I'm still working to prove where he was during the Yorktown campaign, but I'm somewhat convinced his unit was part of the force left behind in New York when Washington moved South.

 

- After the war, he went to Harvard and became a Presbyterian minister, after which he moved to Washington, DC and became one of the founding members of the 2nd Presbyterian Church there.  The church building has since been sold to another denomination, torn down, and rebuilt.  I contacted the 2nd Presbyterian church and they all know very well who he was; apparently their founders -- of which there were three or four -- are all somewhat venerated there.  There was supposedly once a bronze plaque commemorating them, but it was mentioned in a church history from the mid-1800s.  The present day church staff do not know what happened to the plaque.  

 

- He left DC and moved back to his native Massachusetts, where he took a preaching job near his hometown.  

 

- When the War of 1812 broke out, he re-joined the Army and was commissioned a Captain.  He served as a company commander in the 45th Infantry Regiment.  I have not done a ton of research on his service in that war, but I do know that he was part of the expedition into Canada.  

 

- At some point (not in Canada), he became ill with small pox.  His unit was only 20 miles from home at the time, and a story written by his daughter 50 years after-the-fact says his wife rode the 20 miles (side saddle, mind you!) while holding a newborn baby.  Upon arrival, she remained in camp with him and nursed him back to health, all while taking care of the baby.  Once he returned to health, he returned to duty with the army, and she (Salome Noble Danforth) rode back home.  I do not know if the baby was my ancestor or if I descend from one of their other children.  

 

Nice huh?

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That’s just amazing. 

 

Dutch

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Awesome! Thank’s for sharing.

This We’ll Defend

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I'm a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, a patriotic service organization in which we all must prove descent from a Revolutionary War patriot.  I've been recruited to take part in their color guard as well as the "Patriot Chest," a program in which we go into schools with a trunk full of period stuff and talk about what life was like back then.  For both, I've put together a Continental Army uniform that matches the ancestor I wrote about in the original post.  

 

Because he was in for so long, the uniform regulations changed several times.  I chose the late war period.  This picture is how he would have appeared in 1779 and after.  The only thing missing is a silver epaulet on the left shoulder denoting his rank of lieutenant.  I have added the epaulet since taking the photo. 

IMG_2213.JPG

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Absolutely fascinating! My ancestry doesn't go back nearly that far, as my great-grandfather landed in Philadelphia from Russia (or Poland, depending on which country had overrun Latvia lately), in 1870.  But, I did a bunch of research, for about 20 years on a non-relative who had been a civilian teamster for the Army during the Indian Wars period, 1875-76.  This guy was with BGEN George Crook's column on the Big Hoirn & Yellowstone Expedition of 1876. Might have been at the Rosebud Battle. He was issued a Sharps Carbine, which he apparently bought from the Army.

Stay well out there, Pard!

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Do the schools allow you to take the musket in?

I used to do Civil War programs until they objected to musket and bayonet.

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1 hour ago, Utah Bob #35998 said:

Do the schools allow you to take the musket in?

I used to do Civil War programs until they objected to musket and bayonet.

I'm new to the team; we had one scheduled for last week and the muskets were not allowed.  Apparently we do bring them in where allowed, so it's by school.

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Howdy,

And the real interesting thing is that each of us has a relative that lived

at that time and very probably had some part in each war or uprising.

Its just hard if not impossible to document.

The Civil War was also called the Brothers War because brothers had

hard opposite opinions about these sides.

Just like we have relatives who have opinions opposite from ours today.

Verrry interesting.

Best

CR

 

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Thank you.  Fascinating family history.

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Very cool.  Great research.  Thank you for sharing your family story.

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10 minutes ago, J. Mark Flint #31954 LIFE said:

This may be his son and suggest he retired a Colonel

https://curiosmith.com/pages/rev-joshua-n-danforth

 

J. Mark, yes, he was a son of the ancestor I'm writing about.  The guy you listed is not my ancestor; I descend from that guy's sister (i.e. Joshua "senior's" daughter).  My ancestor's wife was named Salome Noble.  You can see the guy you linked has the middle name Noble.  It was very common to put women's last names as a middle name back then.  

 

My ancestor Joshua has been listed as a Colonel on several sources, but NONE of them are either original or authoritative.  In fact, I have his compiled service record showing his Revolutionary War service in its entirety, as well as from the War of 1812.  He did not go beyond Lieutenant in the former and Captain in the latter.  It is possible that he promoted to Colonel in the militia after the War of 1812, but I have not found any proof of it.  

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On 3/22/2020 at 4:49 AM, Cyrus Cassidy #45437 said:

Genealogy is a hobby of mine, and I've been doing it for over a decade.  In that time I've re-discovered a LOT of things about my own family that have been forgotten over the generations.  As a historian who studies the American Revolution and the Civil War, I focus my genealogical research in those two areas.  Thus far, I've uncovered nineteen patriot ancestors from the Revolution (plus one rotten Tory).  The one about whom I know the most was named Joshua Danforth; he was my 5th-great grandfather.

 

In 1775, Danforth was a 15 year-old corporal in his father's Massachusetts militia company.  On April 19th of that year, the battle of Lexington and Concord (i.e. "the shot heard 'round the world") happened; his company was one of many from the area to respond -- they were not on Lexington Green, but once word got around that redcoats had fired on Americans, thousands of militia units "self-mobilized" (a term created by me) and fought.  He was one of them.  

 

After the day-long battle, the British retreated to Boston and word spread throughout New England.  Militia men from all over self-mobilized and joined the Massachusetts units surrounding them -- this was illegal, as militias were not allowed to cross their colonial boundaries.  On June 14th, Congress decided all those militia units surrounding the British were a federal army known as the "Continental Army," and placed a Virginia militia Colonel named George Washington in command.  This is the birthday of the US Army.  Danforth was one of the men present.

 

The Battle of Bunker Hill happened shortly before Washington arrived.  After that battle, Danforth's father went home, but  Joshua remained on active duty.  Every year when his enlistment expired, he re-enlisted.  He did so for the ENTIRE EIGHT-YEAR DURATION OF THE WAR, and remained in the Continental Army until 1784, a year after the war ended, when Congress disbanded all but a select few.  

 

In my 20 years of research on the Revolutionary War, I have never found anyone besides Washington and his generals who stayed on active duty throughout the war; in fact, my ancestor was part of it LONGER than Washington himself by  few months.

 

What else do I know?  

 

- He kept a journal for one year during the war.  I read about it on a document that was over 100 years old, and spent three years sleuthing around the country to find it.  Eventually, I found myself in a suburb of Minneapolis on official duty for the Army, but had  a lead that the journal may have been in the possession of a distant relative there.  I went to his house, and he showed me the journal.  The owner is my 5th cousin, twice removed.  The journal covered the period when Benedict Arnold's treachery was discovered, and my ancestor was personally injured by it.  He referred to "That Traitor Arnold" while pressing his quill harder onto the parchment.  He also held Washington in very high regard, almost reverential, and his commitment to "The Cause" was monumental.  

 

- He served in the 12th Massachusetts Regiment from 1775-1781, during which time he was promoted to sergeant, and later lieutenant.  He was 19 when he became a lieutenant.

 

- In 1781 his regiment was folded into the 2nd Massachusetts, and he remained in this unit until 1784 as their Paymaster.  As Paymaster, his rank almost certainly remained Lieutenant.

 

- In later 1781 or early 1782, after the victory at Yorktown, he wrote a letter to the regimental commander recommending the soldiers be prevented from foraging off peoples' farms, tearing down their fences for firewood (a common practice), or trodding on farm fields.  He strongly stated that they could not be seen as an occupying army, and wanted to do everything possible to promote the virtue of the Continental Army to the people.  The letter is in the library at West Point and I have a scan on it, complete with his wax seal.  

 

- In addition to Lexington and Concord, I can prove that he was at Bunker Hill, Long Island, Saratoga, and the encampment at Valley Forge.  Although there was no muster role, it makes logical sense that he had to have been at Trenton (the famous crossing of the Delaware on Christmas).  I'm still working to prove where he was during the Yorktown campaign, but I'm somewhat convinced his unit was part of the force left behind in New York when Washington moved South.

 

- After the war, he went to Harvard and became a Presbyterian minister, after which he moved to Washington, DC and became one of the founding members of the 2nd Presbyterian Church there.  The church building has since been sold to another denomination, torn down, and rebuilt.  I contacted the 2nd Presbyterian church and they all know very well who he was; apparently their founders -- of which there were three or four -- are all somewhat venerated there.  There was supposedly once a bronze plaque commemorating them, but it was mentioned in a church history from the mid-1800s.  The present day church staff do not know what happened to the plaque.  

 

- He left DC and moved back to his native Massachusetts, where he took a preaching job near his hometown.  

 

- When the War of 1812 broke out, he re-joined the Army and was commissioned a Captain.  He served as a company commander in the 45th Infantry Regiment.  I have not done a ton of research on his service in that war, but I do know that he was part of the expedition into Canada.  

 

- At some point (not in Canada), he became ill with small pox.  His unit was only 20 miles from home at the time, and a story written by his daughter 50 years after-the-fact says his wife rode the 20 miles (side saddle, mind you!) while holding a newborn baby.  Upon arrival, she remained in camp with him and nursed him back to health, all while taking care of the baby.  Once he returned to health, he returned to duty with the army, and she (Salome Noble Danforth) rode back home.  I do not know if the baby was my ancestor or if I descend from one of their other children.  

 

Nice huh?

 

 

Wonderful story and thanks for sharing.    There is a historian named Wayne Stormer who writes for Muzzleloader Magazine and can be found on "Contemporary Artists of the Black Powder Culture" in Facebook.  I think he would be quite interested in this and might be able to fill some gaps.

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Thanks for sharing. 

 

I got my mom involved in genealogy when I was in the 6th grade(history project), 1986. She's since traced a lot of both sides of the family a long ways back, 15&1600's. She's in DAR now because of that.

 

I became interested a couple of years ago when I started building(trying anyway) Kentucky Longrifles. I've traced back to York County, PA on my mom's side and plan to build that style rifle at some point. An interesting note there is that I can remember growing up my maternal great grandmother always said her mother was a cousin to Alvin C. York, but know could really put the details together until last year. We finally searched enough records to say that his great grandfather was my greatx6 or 7 grandfather were the same.

 

Another neat thing I found was the first couple to move into this area on my father's side was from North Carolina. The items listed when they came over the Appalachian mountains in 1805 was 1 mule, 1 coffeepot, and a rifle(flintlock of course).  We have that surname all the way back to 1500's England.

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