Sunday, August 25, 2019

Revolutionary War Pension of John Jacobs

John Jacobs is my maternal 6th great-grandfather from Pennsylvania. John was a Revolutionary War soldier who served in the battle of Sullivan’s Island (see blog post Revolutionary War Soldier John Jacobs). Beyond that battle there wasn’t a lot known about his service. After learning of the Wyoming Massacre (see post 3 July 1778 The Wyoming Massacre) and learning of John’s wife Eliza’s escape down a corn path I wondered where John had been during this battle?

After locating John’s pension # W2805 I was able to locate his Revolutionary War Pension Record. Now I could, hopefully, learn more about John’s military service.

First, I needed to learn more about Pensions for the Revolutionary War. Who was eligible and when where soldiers able to collect?

According to the National Archives;
  • Not every Revolutionary War soldier received a pension.
  • Pension and bounty-land warrant application files contain mainly the records of enlisted men, not officers.
  • On 15 May 1778 the Continental Congress passed a resolution allowing half-pay for officers and $80 for all enlisted men who remained in service to the end of the war.
  • 24 August 1780 the Continental Congress passed the first act offering pensions to widows and orphans of Revolutionary War soldiers.
  • Pensions were offered to encourage enlistment, prevent desertion and resignation.
  • In 1818 Congress passed a pension law granting pensions to Revolutionary War Veterans who had not been disabled. Based on financial need these were granted for life.
  • This was amended in 1820 (due to the large number of soldiers that had filed), 1822 and again in 1832 when full pay was given to officers and enlisted men who had served for two or more years and partial pay for six months to two years of service.

One of the first documents I found in John’s Pension File was an affidavit from John’s son, John Jacobs, Jr. dated 1842 to help his mother, Eliza Pensel Jacobs, obtain a pension for John’s service. John died in 1831 in Exeter, Pennsylvania.

(click on images to enlarge)



In order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress of the 7th July 1838, entitled “An Act granting half pay & pensions to certain widows”

State of Pennsylvania

Luzerne County Pa

On this twenty ninth day of June AD 1842, personally appeared in open Court John Jacobs, a resident of Exeter Township, Luzerne County, & state aforesaid, aged Sixty Eight years or there abouts, & who was appointed by this Court among others to make a Declaration for Mrs Eliza P. Jacobs, who being f ? ? , according to Law, with, on his oath makes the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the provisions made by the Act of Congress, passed July 7, entitled “An Act granting of half pay & pensions to certain widows for his Mother Mrs. Eliza Jacobs-That she is the widow of John Jacobs declarants Father and that he has heard his father say that he was in the Revolutionary Army during the whole war as a Malitia Man, but does not know what State line he served in, that he was drafted-That he served in the Army & was in the battle of Sullivans island, that Genl Lee, Genl Moultrie & Rutledge Commanded, that he has very often heard his deceased father Speak of his being in this engagement: that he has no recollections of hearing his father speak particularly of any other engagement but he has heard him say that he was in many Skirmishes with the Enemy.

That he does not remember the names of the officers under whom his Father served, nor the time of his entering the Service-but he uniformly Stated the tour of his Service, to have been during the whole war_That he was in the Massacre of Wyoming, & that? his Mother escaped to Fort Allese, where his Father joined them after the battle, and this declarant who was then about four years old well remembers to have Seen a ball extracted from his fathers breast by a Surgeon, & which his father kept for many years; his father stated to him that he received it in the battle, that it struck his musket which he was in the act of priming it & shirred the musket & glancing lodged in his breast; that he was with Sullivan when he marched into the valley of Wyoming with his Army- That he remembers that many years since his father prepared & took evidence of his Services for the purpose of getting a pension, & that Solomon Dotter_ was one of this witnesses; but that his father gave it up as he understood because of his hearing some property which would deter him; that he was searched his fathers papers but cannot find them; that he has c? with Said Dotter Since that time, who told him that in the Said application he had proved his Service in the Revolutionary Army of this declarants Father, and that the said Dotter he thinks died before his Mother made application to the Pennsylvania Legislature for his pension- That he remembers to have heard his Father say that he performed services in the Army, in New Jersey, on the Delaware river & on the Minisinks, and that he was on the lines during the whole war and that this dependent does not know of every documentary evidence in the possession of his Mother or the family in Support of the claim, That his Father died on the 15 of March 1831-leaving no property, real or personal after the payments of his funerals expenses-And that his Mother has never been married to any person since-That his father has told him often he was a private soldier-That the said Eliza Jacobs his Mother now resides in Newport, in Said County, that previous thereto she resided in Hanover in Said County.

That he has known his Mothers age for a long number of years, and that as near as he can ascertain the day of Month it was the 15th of June, and that on the 15 of this present Month She was one hundred and four years old- and that she is unable to make the Declaration required, owing to Deafness and an ? ? of her mental faculties, and loss of memory-

That declarants father & Solemon Dotier have both told him that at one time they were in the Same Camp together when in the Revolutionary Army-

Sworn & Subscribed in Open Court 29 June 1842
__                                                                                     John Jacobs
(additional names are illegible)

Thank-you to Kathy and Allen Hughes who were able to provide me with a visual and help me in understanding how John was injured during the battle.
It appears that John was injured while loading his musket. Loading was a 2-part process done by taking some powder from a paper cartridge and pouring it into the pan by the Frizzen then putting the rest of the powder and ball down the barrel.  Before putting powder and ball down the barrel John’s musket must have been struck by enemy fire which deflected the round into his chest.

This Pension file was found on Fold3 and difficult to read due to age. Please excuse any transcription errors. If you are able to identify any of the missing words I would appreciate knowing them. Once again using Vivid-Pix Restore enabled me to have a higher quality version to transcribe. The handwriting in the document was not easy to read either. I needed to do additional research about the Revolutionary War and the Battle of Sullivan’s Island to know the proper spellings of several of the names mentioned in this document. I also did further investigation on Fold3 to find the name of the fellow soldier mentioned in this document who’s name was difficult to read. I was able to locate a pension record (#22735) for a soldier named ‘Samuel Solomon Dotter’ also from Luzerne County, PA for the correct spelling of his name.

Now I know that John fought in the Wyoming Massacre and was fortunate to be one of the survivors when so many others perished. There are other documents in John’s Pension file and more to be discovered.

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,


  1. Very interesting post. Love the photo of the musket.

    1. Thank-you Diane! I think the musket really helped explain how he was shot.