Home : Quarterly Archives : Volume 9
Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
Source: April 1956 Volume 9 Number 1, Pages 2–17
Revolutionary soldiers in the Old Eagle School graveyard
In his famous book "The History of the Old Eagle School" (John C. Winston Co., Philadelphia, 1909), the late Henry Pleasants writes (pp. 110-114):
"With a similar end in view the Trustees, through their Secretary, made an exhaustive investigation of the old traditions regarding the burial in the little cemetery of many soldiers of the American Revolution. The results of this investigation were most gratifying. They established beyond reasonable doubt the fact that many soldiers who died during the Valley Forge Encampment of the American Army in 1777-78, were buried here, having been removed from the camp to farmhouses and other places, which then served as hospitals, and thence, on their death, to this as the nearest public burial ground.
"The names of the soldiers who died in service seem to be irretrievably lost, but those of five who served during the Revolution and were later buried here were well established, as follows:
"Jacob Huzzard (second), of Tredyffrin--Private, Morgan's Company, Hannurn's Regiment, Chester Co. Militia. Enlisted 1777; died 1819.
"Samuel McMinn, of Tredyffrin--Private in Emergency Militia of 1780, from Chester Co. Died Aug. 8, 1811, aged 54.
"Charles McClean, of Tredyffrin, born 1741 -- Dunne's Company, 3rd Pa. Regiment. Wounded at Stony Point; died July 23, 1798.
"William Lindsay, of Upper Merion-- Corporal of Cowpland's Company, Hannum's Regiment, of Chester Co. Militia. Enlisted 1777; died (about) 1817.
"Frank Fisher, of Tredyffrin--Marine on brig "Hyder Ali," Capt. Barney. Wounded at capture of the "General Monk" in Delaware Bay, 1782. Enlisted 1777; died (about) 1825.
"To ensure and establish the accuracy of these investigations, the statements and records on which they were based were carefully collected in a Brief of Evidence, which was submitted to many of the leading lawyers of the vicinity, who appended their opinions that the evidence was sufficient to establish the fact of these burials.
"The Trustees then placed a large boulder conspicuously on the western slope of the graveyard on which were inscribed the names of these five men, and also incised therein a bronze tablet bearing the following inscription.
IN UNMARKED GRAVES
"The services at the dedication of this memorial on July 4, 1905, were of the simplest nature--a prayer by Rev. James H. Lamb, D.D., rector of St. David's Episcopal Church, Radnor; and a brief oration by William W. Montgomery, Esq., of Radnor.
"The actual expenses of placing and lettering this monument were defrayed mainly by the sale of the handsomely illustrated brochure, entitled "Radnor," prepared by the Secretary, with many assistants, presenting in heroic verse a brief story of the establishment and history of Old St. David's Church, Radnor, with reflections in its suggestive features."
This large natural boulder with several irregular but roughly plane surfaces is easily seen from the Old Eagle School Road. The small bronze tablet is affixed to a southwestern vertical face, On the northwestern vertical face is carved in the stone:
On the rear face is carved:
and on the sloping upper face:
The "Brief of Evidence" referred to by Mr. Pleasants in his book is now before me. It is a typescript of twelve closely typed pages, and consists of the evidence and data that verified the fact of the burial of at least these five old Revolutionary soldiers in the cemetery. Many of these items were contained in letters or statements to the Trustees of Old Eagle School, or in the records of the school between
1897 and 1905. Other data were copied from official historical records. Most or all of this research was certainly the labor of Mr. Pleasants. Since those records have not heretofore been published, we give them herein in full exactly as they appear.
Clipped to the "Brief of Evidence" is a smaller piece of paper with the inscription on the bronze tablet typed on it. This bears the date "2-28-05" four months before the monument was dedicated, and also, in Mr. Pleasants' handwriting, "Proposed inscription." On the back is written in the same handwriting:
Names inscribed on boulder are -
This suggests that the latter inscription on the rear of the boulder was added, at a later time.
Brief of Evidence
BRIEF of EVIDENCE relating to burial of SOLDIERS of the AMERICAN REVOLUTION in the graveyard on the Old Eagle School property at Strafford Station, in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania.
Extract from traditional statement of Joseph Levis Worrell, of Radnor, made January 1, 1897 (Old Eagle School Records, page 210):
"It's said that a great many Revolutionary soldiers were buried in that old graveyard (the Old Eagle School) who died when the American Army was at Valley Forge. It was very usual when soldiers became sick to send them to private houses, there being no hospitals. This custom brought many soldiers to this neighborhood, and when some of them died, they were buried at Old Eagle. Edward Siter told me this."
N.B. (a) Edward Siter was a prominent citizen of Radnor in the early part of the 19th century. Landlord of the "Spread Eagle" Tavern in 1814; one of the early Trustees of the Old Eagle School of Tredyffrin and one of the executors of the Jacob Huzzard, 2nd who died in 1819. (b) In Futhey & Cope's History of Chester County, Pa., page 101, this tradition seems verified as follows: "After the Main Army (of Americans) took up their winter quarters in the month of December 1777 at Valley Forge, the sick and wounded were provided for in private houses, meeting houses and wherever suitable accommodations could be had."
Extract from statement of Ann Eliza Clinger, of Willistown, Chester County. Pa., made May 6, 1901 (Old Eagle School Records, pages 233-4):
"I have heard people say that soldiers of the Revolutionary war were buried in the Old Eagle School graveyard - I have no doubt of it."
Extract from statement of Charles Moore, of Berwyn, made March 7, 1902 (Old Eagle School Records, page 234):
"Rudolph Huzzard and Jacob Huzzard and his wife Rose are buried in the Eagle graveyard."
N.B. Charles Moore was born in 1826 and lived for many years adjoining the Old Eagle School.
Memorandum of statement of Caroline S. Leamy (4239 Westminster Avenue, West Philadelphia), made May 6, 1903, to Secretary of Trustees of Old Eagle School:
"Aunt Polly Huzzard said that Jacob Huzzard was a soldier in the Revolution - thinks it was Jacob Huzzard who died in 1819."
N.B. "Aunt Polly Huzzard" was the wife of Rudolph, a brother of Jacob Huzzard, 2nd. She lived to a great age and died in the vicinity of Old Eagle School in 1879.
N.B. See fuller statement in No. XX of this brief.
Extract from letter of Ann Eliza Clinger, of Duffryn Mawr, Chester County, Pennsylvania, to Secretary, Trustees of Old Eagle School, dated December 2, 1902:
"Now as to the soldiers being buried in the Old Eagle School burial ground, I have heard that also, but have no positive knowledge."
Extracts from letters of William McKeage, of Hoyt, Kansas, to Secretary, Trustees of Old Eagle School: From letter of October 27, 1902:
"There was one Revolutionary soldier buried there (The Old Eagle School graveyard). I cannot recall the name now. I am in my 87th year and many old memories cling to the old home thereabout."
From letter of November 3, 1902:
In regard to the Revolutionary soldier, it has entirely slipped from my memory the name, although I sat up with his corpse. I left there (the neighborhood of the Old Eagle School) in 1846."
Extracts of letters from Horman L. McMinn, of Du Bois, Pa., to Secretary, Trustees of Old Eagle School:
From letter dated January 20, 1903:
"Samuel McMinn was for a short time a member of the Militia in the emergency of 1780, when Washington was at Morristown, N.J. Having when a small boy lost the sight of one eye, he was exempt from military service. Nevertheless, he was accepted for short service at that time with other young men of his neighborhood who joined the Army."
From letter of April 8, 1903:
"Replying to your question as to the source of my information regarding Charles McClean and Samuel McMinn, will say that the statements made were from information gleaned from interviews had with Thomas McMinn, son of Samuel Sr., who went with me and pointed out the spot where his father was buried. At this time, Thomas McMinn's wife had been dead several years and his wife's sister - a daughter of Charles McClean - kept house for him. As my visit with them at that time was principally with the desire to learn the history of our family, I made note of these interviews and received from the lady's hand the brief referred to (in a previous letter to Secretary, February 26, 1903-sec VIII). I also gathered some information from my grandfather, son of Samuel, with whom I lived for several years when young, and afterwards visited. I also visited my great-aunt Mary McMinn Williams, daughter of Samuel, who resided until her death in the State of Iowa. She related to me many very interesting circumstances verifying the statements made to me by Uncle Thomas, as did also the wife of Samuel McMinn Jr., and mother of Mrs. Hoopes, whom I have named, who lived for several years and to the time of her death in West Philadelphia.
These persons, as well as others in the family, were consulted and gave assurance of truthfulness of traditions, all of whom were conscientious and trustworthy people."
From letter of November 26, 1904:
"In reply to your letter of the 21st inst., I have prepared, from my genealogical and biographical notes, a sketch of the life of Samuel McMinn and his family. This will make plain to your mind that he is not only a native of Pennsylvania, but a native and resident of the community in which the Old Eagle School is located I am sorry not to be able to state
more of his military record. It is associated with companions in that emergency period who responded to the call from the neighborhood in Haverford very likely. Their enlistment may have been in Philadelphia, where their Company was formed. Of Charles McClean, the best authority, no doubt, is found in the brief I possess - once his property - given me by his daughter. I will here quote -
"The bearer, Chas. McClean, to the best of my knowledge, was a soldier of the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment in Captain I. B. Dunn's Company, and wounded in the attack of Stony Point. Dated Feby, (sic) 16, 1791.
(signed) Rich'd Fullerton late Adjutant, 3rd Pa. Regt."
(On the other side)
"I have examined the bearer, Chas. McClean, and found that his left leg and thigh are much injured in consequence of two wounds he received with musket balls and that he is unable to provide a livelihood.
(signed) James Hutchinson."
Charles McClean was born in the year 1741; he was wounded at the storming of Stony Point by General Anthony Wayne in the night of July 16, 1779, He suffered from his wounds until his death, which occurred July 23, 1798. He was buried in the Eagle School House burying ground.
Samuel McMinn was born in the year 1757 and died the 8th of August, 1811, and was buried at the same place.
From letter of February 4, 1905 -
"I received your favor of the 30th ultimo and have carefully looked the notes over (mainly the data in this brief) and regret to say that I am unable to supplement the account already given with any further documentary evidence than that already obtained.
The Charles McClean mentioned as a member of Samuel Moore's Company, 3rd Penna. Reg't, is undoubtedly another person than Charles McLean of I. B. Dunn's Company of the same Reg't. The former, in all probability, was the man who died in Centre County, December 21, 1822. A younger man than the former Charles McClean, the father-in-law of
E. Thomas McMinn was the member of I. B. Dunn's Company. He was born in 1741, severely wounded at Stony Point July 16, 1779, at the age of 38. His daughter Hannah was born in Tredyffrin Township April 5th, 1789. Her father died July 23, 1798, at the age of 57 years. His wife Hannah McClean died May 15, 1816. They were both buried in the Old Eagle burying ground in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania;) It is quite possible Charles McClean, the father of this family, was the one meant in the list of pensioners of "March 1728," considering his wounded condition in the evidence he obtained from the Adjutant of his Regiment February 16, 1791, the original of which is in my possession. His death occurs four months following the date of the list of pensioners. There appears no documentary evidence that he ever received the pension that was granted; and his daughter in the house and in the presence of Thomas McMinn, stated to me that they had never received anything from the Government. There is no doubt in my mind but that she told the truth. This was seventy-two years after the death of her father. She was an old feeble lady, but bright in mind, and remarked that if they only could receive a pension, it would be a great help in her need."
Old assessment rolls of Chester County, Pennsylvania indicate:
Samuel McMinn, of Radnor, Freeman - 1779-1781
N.B. The name of Francis Fisher does not appear on the assessment rolls of Tredyffrin or vicinity, but in 1801 "Francis Fisher, laborer," became purchaser of one acre of Huzzard place on Gulf Road, and in 1814 of 41 1/4 perches in "West side of Valley Road leading to Spread Eagle" (See deed books T2-316 and M3-155) . He and his wife Abigail conveyed these properties respectively in 1814 and 1823. He executed the deeds by his mark.
Jacob Huzzard, the older, was owner of 106 acres of land close to the Old Eagle School property by deed from Christian Workheiser and wife, dated April 10, 1771, and recorded at West Chester, Pa., in deed book H2, Vol 32, page 95, etc. Letters of administration on his estate were granted to his sons Jacob and Rudolph Huzzard, December 18, 1790 (Adm. book 2, page 377). He was a taxable in Tredyffrin in 1774-1781 with 100 acres (12 Pa. Arch. 3rd series, 120-426-789).
No letters testamentary or of administration were issued in Chester County on estates of Charles McClean or of Francis Fisher.
Letters testamentary on the estate of Samuel McMinn of Easttown were granted in Chester County, September 21, 1811. Will book 11-404 where he mentions "Wife Catherina" and Children Abbie, Dorothy, John, Ross, Samuel, Thomas, Edward and Mary, and appoints "John Siter and John Brooke of Radnor" his executors.
Letters testamentary on the estate of Jacob Buzzard 2nd were granted in Chester County, September 27, 1819 (will book 13-167), wherein he mentions wife "Rose" and appoints "kinsman Rees Rambo and neighbor Edward Siter" his executors.
The Pennsylvania Archives relating to the soldiers of the American Revolution indicate -
"Isaac Budd Dunn, Captain Third Pennsylvania, April 25th, 1781"(10th Penna. Archives (2nd series) 298 and 456-461).
"Richard Fullerton, Adjutant 1st Penna, Regt. died in Philadelphia June 16, 1792, aged 35" (10th Pa. Arch.(2nd series) 337-459).
Privates (3rd Penna. Regt.)
In list of pensioners 1789 (made up in 1812) appears the record
"Charles McClean, March 1798" (11th Penna. Archives, 2nd series, 790.)
N.B. The date annexed indicating time which pensioner is paid "may be regarded as approximate to that of their deaths."
Also in list of Revolutionary pensioners in 1825 appear the records "Andrew Garden" and Charles McLain P.L. dead"
(15th Pa. Archives 2nd series, 720-728)
In the list of privates of Captain Samuel Moore's Company of 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment, September 10, 1778, appears the record:
"Charles McClane sick at ye Yellow Springs" (15th Pa, Archives 2nd series, 442)
N.B. One of the privates in same Company is designated as "waiter on General Wayne."
In the list of "Muster Rolls and papers relating to the Associators and Militia of the County of Chester" appears:
"Muster Roll of Captain Mordecai Morgan's Company of the first class of C County Militia Regiment of Foot in the service of the U.S. commanded by Col. John Hannum, offered the service 23rd of June 1777-"
"Privates Jacob Huzzard - June 23, 1777"
"Chester July 11, 1777 Mustered then Captain Mordecai Morgan's Company as specified in the above roll . " (14th Pa. Archives, 2nd series, 74)
Extract from "Partial list of Revolutionary Soldiers of Chester County, who received pensions." (History of Chester County (Futhey & Cope) 113):
"Francis Fisher, Marine, enlisted March 16, 1777, under Captain Barney on Brig "Hyder Ali" wounded by grapeshot in capturing the British Ship "General Monk".
"Frank Fisher, who resided in a house on the southerly side of this road (road past the Old Eagle School) near the Old Eagle School, is, besides Andrew Gardner (Garden), the
only one of the old Revolutionary Soldiers living in that vicinity whose names have been preserved among the neighborhood traditions."
(Extract from an historical account of "The Old Eagle School Road" published in the Suburban, Wayne, Delaware County, Pa., February 1902, made up from traditions etc., mainly from Havard Walker of Tredyffrin.
Extract from Penna, Archives Vol. 1, 2nd series, page 395. In "List of private armed vessels to whom commission was issued by the State of Pennsylvania" appears reference to the "Hyder Ally" 1782 - ship of 110 men and 16 guns, Capt. Josh. Barney, U.S., with note as follows: "April 8th, 1782, in the Delaware Bay the "Hyder Ally" engaged and captured the "General Monk" of 20 guns and 136 men. Capt. Rogers, after one of the best fought actions on record, with a loss of four killed and eleven wounded on the "Hyder Ally" and 20 killed and 33 wounded on board the "General Monk". The guns of the former were six pounders while those of the latter were nine pounders."
Cf. Watson's Annals of Philadelphia (Hazzard's ed.), vol. 2, page 324.
Statement of John Wilds of Tredyffrin, Pa., made February 18, 1905, to Secretary of Trustees of Old Eagle School:
"Frank Fisher lived in flat near my place, was probably buried at Eagle - I don't know. That was one of the main graveyards of the neighborhood at one time. The only other graveyards in the neighborhood were at Great Valley Baptist Church and Old Radnor Episcopal. I think Frank Fisher was a soldier. He was an old man - dead before my time. I was born February 16, 1818. Don't recollect hearing of soldiers buried at Eagle. Might have been. Don't remember to have heard that Frank Fisher was buried at Eagle. He was talked of a great deal when I was young. Andrew Garden was an old soldier and belonged to Valley Baptist Church. Taught school. Fisher I guess lived on strip across Old Eagle School Road. Isaac Buzzard lived there. Don't remember any Revolutionary Soldiers except Andrew Garden. I don't remember Charles McClean, except the name."
N.B. The records of Great Valley Baptist Church and St. Davids (Radnor) Episcopal Church, do not indicate burials there of Jacob Buzzard or Francis Fisher.
Statement of William H. Beaumont, of Duffryn Mawr, Chester County, Pennsylvania, made February 18th, 1905, to Secretary of Trustees of Old Eagle School:
"I know the Old Eagle School in Tredyffrin. Never went there but often drove past it. Know nothing about it's history, although I have heard that many Revolutionary Soldiers were buried there. Know no more. I remember this as a tradition of the neighborhoods. Never heard of Frank Fisher or Charles McClean. Have heard of Samuel McMinn and Jacob Huzzard. Can't say I remember hearing they were buried there. I am in my 80th year. Have lived in Radnor and vicinity all my life."
Statement of Ann Eliza Clinger, made February 18, 1905 to Secretary of Trustees of Old Eagle School:
"I kept house for many years for Jacob Buzzard Mullin who formerly lived near Old Eagle School in Tredyffrin. I remember him speaking of Frank Fisher who lived near Old Eagle School. I judge from what they said, talking about burying soldiers there, etc., that he was a soldier and was buried there. I think a good many of them were buried there. It was the common burying place for people of that neighborhood. My father used to speak of the settlement opposite to the Eagle School, where Frank Fisher lived, as 'Fishersburg". Never heard that he had a pension. I think I remember father referring to Frank Fisher when speaking of the people buried in the old school graveyard. I remember to have heard as a neighborhood tradition that American soldiers of the Revolution were buried there. It was a Lutheran Church originally. Jacob Mullin's grandmother Rosanna Buzzard, whose maiden name was Auges, used to tell of going to Church there from Sweedes Street near Bridgeport. I remember her as a little woman. Jacob Huzzard was buried there with his wife Rosanna and sons. I think all the family of Buzzards were buried there. Don't remember to have heard that Jacob Buzzard was a soldier. I feel quite sure of Jacob Buzzard and his wife Rosanna being buried there. As to Frank Fisher I think he also was buried there, I think I would have heard if he had been buried elsewhere. That father would have spoken of as an unusual fact if he had been buried elsewhere. I was born in Easttown, 1829. I lived most of my life in the neighborhood of Tredyffrin.
XVII (part 2)
In explanation of the paucity, and ambiguity of the record evidence of the American soldiers of the Revolution buried in the Old Eagle School graveyard, the following quotations from high authorities will be of interest and value.
(a) In the address delivered by Henry Armitt Brown at the Valley Forge celebration on June 19, 1878, after referring by name to some 22 officers who served with distinction from that vicinity during the Revolution, he adds:
"The names of privates, unfortunately, are not so easily ascertained, but I am ready to furnish satisfactory evidence that the following named men living within a circuit of four miles of Valley Forge served at one time or other in the Revolutionary Army."
He then names 27 persons.
(b) in Futhey & Cope's History of Chester County,Pa, page 114, the inaccuracy of the records relating to the soldiers of the Revolutionary War is thus referred to:-
"It was contemplated by the authors of this work to give a roster of the Chester County soldiers in the Revolution and such a list was compiled from the recently published "Archives of the Commonwealth" but after its compilation so unsatisfactory was the result, so incomplete the list, and so uncertain the location that it was decided to omit it from this work."
N.B. In the same history on page 112 "The List of Revolutionary Soldiers of Chester County who received pensions" is distinctly stated to be a "partial list."
Extracts from statement of Joseph Fisher Mullin, made February 22, 1905, to Secretary of Trustees of Old Eagle School.
"I was born March 31, 1824. Saw Grandmother Rosanna Huzzard. (Her maiden name was Auges). She was 14 years old when soldiers were at Valley Forge. I heard this as a child. She was 91 when she died. Her husband Jacob Huzzard died in 1819. Don't remember hearing about Jacob Huzzard being a soldier in Revolution. He might have been, His father was sold for his passage. Jacob Huzzard and his wife Rosanna and his two sons, Samuel and John, were all buried in the
Old Eagle School graveyard. Jacob's brother Rudolph married Mary Wilds (Aunt Polly Huzzard). She was 93 when she died. She was married when she was fourteen. Frank Fisher lived there. David Wack lived near Old Eagle School - an old cherry tree opposite. Don't remember to have heard that he was a soldier or sailor. He was probably buried in the Old Eagle grounds. Don't know. He had a wife Abigail.
Had a daughter Jane who married Edward Mullin and a son who was a Baptist. Grandfather Jacob Huzzard had 42 acres of the old Huzzard place. Father bought it from him. Father was born in 1792 in Cecil County, Maryland. Drove stage on Lancaster Turnpike. Mother was born in 1792. She served in Old Eagle Tavern; Edward Siter kept it. I have heard of Charles McClean, but didn't know him. Never heard he was a soldier. I think I have heard that Samuel McMinn was a soldier. Never heard where the Eagle School came from - nor of Jacob Sharraden."
Statement of Caroline S. Leamy, made February 23, 1905, to Secretary of Trustees of Old Eagle School:
"I live at 5517 Lansdowne Avenue, Philadelphia. I was born June 7, 1837, in Old Carr House near Carr School House. I was daughter of James and Martha Carr. I knew Aunt Polly Huzzard well. She said that her brother-in-law Jacob Huzzard was a soldier in the Revolution. I heard her and my mother Martha Carr talk of the old people a great deal. I am sure she referred to her brother-in-law though she had a son Jacob; don't know where he was buried. Aunt Polly's husband was Rudolph, Jacob's brother. Knew Thomas McMinn who married a McClean. Never heard him speak of Samuel McMinn or Charles McClean being soldiers. Never heard that soldiers were buried in Old Eagle graveyard. I have heard of Francis Fisher who lived near Old Eagle School. It was said he used to cut up a good deal. Never heard he was a soldier."
Statement of Julius F. Sachse as to burial of Soldiers of the American Revolution in the Cemetery at The Old Eagle School in Tredyffrin, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Made to Henry Pleasants, Secretary Philadelphia, Penna. March 22nd, 1905.
"I am well acquainted with the Old Eagle School at Strafford Station, Pennsylvania Railroad, in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, having lived for years within a few miles of the spot, and being a frequent visitor there.
I am also well acquainted with the traditions of the neighborhood regarding it. I am the author of several historical accounts of that neighborhood, including the first printed account of the Old Eagle School House.
I have often heard of the tradition that soldiers of the American Revolution are buried there - it was a settled tradition of the neighborhood amongst the old inhabitants fully twenty-five years back.
While gathering information about this old landmark some twenty-five years ago I interviewed among others an old resident, also known to you if I am not mistaken, Mr. George Lewis who was then, I think, over 90 years of age and was born and lived all his life in the immediate vicinity, and had for some time taught school in the Old Eagle School House. He mentioned to me stories of the burial in the Eagle ground of soldiers during the Valley Forge Encampment during the winter of 1777-8, which he had received from his father: Among others that of the soldier so unfortunately shot by young Beaver. I was also told years ago by some old people that some of the soldiers killed during Tarleton's attack upon Light Horse Harry Lee's outpost (about a mile- South of Berwyn Station, P.R.R.) were buried here. However I have never been able to verify this fact from any records. But it always seemed plausible, as this was the nearest graveyard to that scene of action. (Signed) Julius P, Sachse"
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