Saturday, July 3, 2010

Birth of a Patriot

A number of researchers have put forth several birth dates for the Stephen Jones who married Keziah Strawn. Searching FamilySearch.org, I have found all of the following: "5 Jan 1763," "1765," and "1773." The most challenging have been dates posted by two researchers in separate Pedigree Resource Files. The birth date, 5 Jan 1772 and died 5 Mar 1852, would preclude him being the Revolutionary War patriot who joined the New Jersey Militia in 1780, and the death date does not match that found in his obituary.

'5 Jan 1763, with a birth place of Newark, Essex, New Jersey,' has a film source [FHL US/CAN 13l96200 Patron Ordinance Submission Sheets 1969-1991]. 'Born 1765 in Essex, New Jersey' also has a film source [FHL US/CAN 445956 Salt Lake City temple endowments for the dead, 1893-1970]. This contradictory information is somewhat confusing, as church members are required to provide proof by research of their ancestors.

The Stephen Jones who served in the New Jersey troops during the Revolution in 1780 resided in Essex County, New Jersey. He was also old enough to have been accepted in the Militia and Regular Troops that year. These facts are established by his application for his benefit based on the Pension Act passed 7 Jun 1832. In December 1838, when he gave testimony in his pension hearing, his age was marked down as 74 years. [Revolutionary War Pension File S15903; Heritage Quest Online] This places his birth ca. 1764.

The census is one place we can normally turn to help us establish a general birth year. Stephen Jones can be placed in Delaware County, Indiana in 1831, based on a letter he wrote from that location. A Stephen Jones does appear in Liberty, Delaware County, Indiana in the 1830 census:
1830 Census IN Delaware Liberty P 1 L 13
Stephen Jones - - - - - - - 1 1 - - - - // - - - - - - 1
[U.S. Census Records; National Archives; Ancestry.com]

This record reads as: '1 male age 50 to under 60, 1 male age 60 to under 70, 1 female age 40 to under 50.' From this record, we might speculate that Stephen Jones is either the male between 50 and 60 or the male between 60 and 70. If he were under 60, that would place his birth between 1761 and 1771. If he were the older male, birth would have been between 1751 and 1761.

The 1840 census is of even more help; that year census takers were required to identify Revolutionary War pensioners by name and age. Stephen Jones, living with his son, Moses, in Quincy, Illinois, is found in the 1840 Federal Census:

1840 U.S. Census IL Adams Quincy 2nd Ward P 7 L 14
(Pg.7) Moses Jones 1 - - - - - 1 - - 1 - - - //2 1 2 - - 1 - - - 1
(Pg.8) Stephen Jones 77
[U.S. Census Records; National Archives; Ancestry.com]

The males translate to 1 male under age 5, 1 male age 40 to under 50, and 1 make age 70 to under 80. Since Stephen, age 77, is listed separately on page 2, he is clearly the male between 70 and 80. The 1841 Census of Pensioners also lists Stephen Jones age 77, living with Moses Jones in Quincy 2nd Ward.


The obituary of Stephen Jones appeared in the Quincy Whig on 5 Feb 1842, page 3, column 2. It gives Stephen's age as "79" in Jan 1842, which translates to a birth year of 1762; he would have been 17 or 18 when he enlisted in the New Jersey Militia.

"A SOLDIER OF THE REVOLUTION
The Quincy Whig, 5 Feb 1842 p.3 c.2
Died in this city, on the 27th of Jan. 1842, Stephen JONES, aged 79 years. The deceased was a soldier of the Revolution, and served his country with credit and honor in those dark days of trouble. He was buried with military honors by the volunteer companies of the city-the "Grays" and "Guards". Thus has another of those tried patriots faded from earth - death is fast thinning their ranks - but a little time, and there will not be one left of that patriot band. Their glorious deeds, however, will live forever in the minds of their countrymen."

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