Sunday, January 1, 2012

Research

.I may be going out on a limb here...
Some of the points I discussed in my intro to our family history must be expanded on a bit to help explain the reason for the lack of information on John Bartlett. The key to expanding our documented history any further relies solely on unlocking his mystery. I believe that once the details of John's life are discovered, the search for his father and the quest to go further back will be made much easier. John is such a pivotal figure because he presided over the most significant transition in our branch of the family since our still unnamed ancestor first crossed the ocean. He would be the first to take our family outside of our original colonial origins.

His generation began the first westward expansion of our country. On the heels of Daniel Boone and other early explorers came those ready to seek their fortune in a new land. John was one of those early pioneers. The old was left behind for greener pastures but an unfortunate result of this for us would be the loss of family ties and documented family history. Beyond the ongoing questions as to the identity of John’s father, John’s date and location of birth, number of children he had and whether or not he had siblings or other family living nearby; it is also unknown whether or not John served during the Revolutionary War.

John’s age, his time spent in North Carolina, the timing of his move to Kentucky and location in which his family settled would suggest that he was also a veteran. Certainly, most all of his neighbors were Revolutionary War Veterans. Part of the frustration in researching our particular family line is discovering how many families that interacted with ours are so easily traceable to their participation in the war, and in many cases, even back to their origins in Europe. Why isn’t it that easy for us? Somewhere down the line, our Bartlett’s dropped the ball regarding the passing of our lineage on to the next generation. I liken it to taking family photos. So much of our recent history is simply preserved in photographs, but there are times we find ourselves living in the moment and forgetting to bring the camera. This leaves those memories lost to those who weren’t there.

Reliance on verbal history can also be easily unintentionally distorted when a story is passed from generation to generation and unless there is a written record, the real history is eventually lost altogether. I would wager that the average person has little knowledge of their family history beyond their great-grand parents. If it wasn’t for my contact with my great-grandfather, I wouldn’t have any idea who came before us and I certainly wouldn’t have had the interest in going back any further. It is sad to think that in a matter of a few generations we could all be completely forgotten.

Other factors make it difficult in the attempt to uncover our family history. The first United States census was begun in 1790, however during the War of 1812, the 1790 and 1800 census was destroyed due to the burning of Washington D.C. by the British. Add to that the number of county courthouses full of documents burned during the Civil War and losses due to other disasters (both natural and man-made) and early records are sadly full of gaping holes. Many families, such as ours apparently did not maintain an independent documented family history. If they did, it either no longer exists or it may be collecting dust in some family member’s attic.

Many stories of John’s life have persisted over the years and it can be assumed that regardless of their validity, he must have lived quite a life, or at least been quite a storyteller himself. Or maybe it was his children, who in telling stories of their father’s adventures contributed to his myth. As the years pass, stories of loved ones can make them seem larger than life. In order to attempt to get to the truth a combination of factors need to be considered. Those would include known family history, the background and events that led to the settlement of Kentucky, geographic locations and any documented clues available. These can all be used to connect the dots and create a plausible scenario. Many factors have to add up in order to create a sound theory.

My search for our John Bartlett has been a rollercoaster and several times I’ve been ready to give up when something else will suddenly be found that keeps the search alive. The theory I’ve been chasing for over a year now involves a military warrant for 200 acres in the name of a John Bartlett on Pittman Creek that includes his signature on the back with a survey dated 1797 signed for him by a brother named William and also a governor’s grant confirming the validation of the warrant. It seemed to be a piece of land that was possible for him to have owned due to it’s location and with no other John Bartlett’s shown to be in that area at that time, I decided to check into it further.

More than a year later, I’m still trying to debunk this warrant, but have yet to do so. Maybe I am just too stubborn to admit this isn’t our John, but there seems to be enough to go on without looking too foolish, or maybe I’m already there. Regardless, here is the information I currently have. In 1797, evidence shows that [a] John Bartlett obtained 200 acres of land on Pittman’s Creek. The land obtained via a military warrant for services in the Virginia State Cavalry during the Revolutionary War. Dates of service are reportedly from 1780 to 1783 with an honorable discharge on April 12th, 1783.

A map from that time shows that the warrant was issued for land in what is now Pulaski County, which was formed in 1799 and at that time of its formation, was a neighboring county to Green. In fact, part of Pulaski County was once a part of Green County, although the land in question does not appear to have been. The maps of this time aren’t very easy to work with in regards to scale and finding actual locations. Many of the cities and towns used for reference hadn’t been formed yet and thus didn’t show on maps. Rivers and creeks weren’t drawn to scale and although they were supposedly surveyed, the information provided leaves much to be desired.

The actual location of this land in question is around 70 miles east from where John’s family settled in Skaggs Station. Even considering the limits of travel during that time, it would not be out of the question for him to be the owner of the land. They may have even passed through that very location on their way to settling in Skaggs. Many held land as a way of building wealth and not all land was settled by their owners. In fact, this land on Pittman was never shown to have been settled by a Bartlett at all. In fact, no Bartlett’s ever appear on any census in that area.

Why would this be? It was clearly given to a John Bartlett and his heirs. I suspect it’s possible that it could have been intended as a future family homestead and then sold to a family friend, extended family member, or a total stranger after John’s death. The survey was in 1797 and John died in 1801. The year it was surveyed would not suggest that the owner would have been ready to settle the land at that time, if that was it's intended use. It would not be out of the question for some years to pass before it was either settled or sold for profit.

Looking at the location itself, as shown on the survey, Pittman [now spelled Pitman] Creek is a branch of the Cumberland River. There is reference to White Oak trees and a street name exists referencing that fact. The Quarles family land sat right next to this land and they appeared on the Pulaski County census for decades. The bend of the creek resembles the rough drawing on the survey. Since this land had Pitman Creek as a border, 200-plus years of soil erosion has made it impossible to figure out the exact boundries. But, there is no doubt that this is the same location.
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Location of Pitman Creek
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Another discovery was made when looking at the aerial map. Just a mile south of the land is Beauchamp Boulevard, which is the married name of John’s youngest daughter Lydia. Is this just a coincidence? I have checked to see if the Beauchamp family related to Lydia’s husband includes any Beauchamp’s that lived in the area. It just so happens that there is a distant cousin of Joseph Beauchamp who currently lives only 9 miles north of this land on Pitman Creek in Somerset, Kentucky. I made that discovery thanks to some miscellaneous web-surfing and dumb luck. Unfortunately, just because a current Beauchamp family member lives in the area does not mean that there would be a link to that land 200 years ago. So far, any credible Beauchamp connection to that piece of land has yet to be found.

I’ve also tried other common family surnames and even alternate spellings to link our family to the land to no avail. It appears that attempting to track down the history of ownership of the property would be the only way to explore this any further and that may be something that’s out of reach for me at this time. Finding out whom this John (or his family) sold it to, viewing the names on the actual documents and the date it originally changed hands might provide enough evidence. I’m not sure what other clues beyond that could be gathered besides finding a family cemetery on or near the property. I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel on this just yet, but I do find myself currently at a standstill in proving whether or not this will lead to "our" John Bartlett.
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LAND RECORDS:
.Kentucky Land Grants, Book 11, p. 499: John BARTLETT, 200 acres. Military Warrant No. 321, for services in Virginia State Cavalry. Land surveyed on Pittman’s Creek Aug 12, 1797. John BARTLETT was honorably discharged from service Apr 12, 1783.

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The above documents are: (1) the original warrant, issued to the veteran or his assignee(s); (2) the actual survey; and (3) the governor’s grant. Original signatures are included on original documents. This can prove useful when matching signatures to marriage bonds or pension applications, for example.

Notice that the warrant does not identify a particular tract or location. This was done intentionally by the Virginia Land Office. If the warrants were confined, it would be difficult for the veteran to sell or trade his allotment. The veterans were not receiving money for their services; they were being compensated in land. Some preferred to stay in Virginia; others preferred moving to an area other than a military district. The fact that a precise location was omitted allowed buyers to purchase several warrants and patent large tracts. Frequently the buyers were agents working for wealthy speculators. If the veteran sold his warrant before the document was actually issued, the name of the assignee is included. If the veteran received his warrant then assigned it to another party, the name of the assignee will appear on the survey and/or the grant.

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This is not the case with this John’s warrant. It was cashed in for the land on Pittman’s Creek in his name as stated in the survey and confirmed in the governor’s grant. John’s representative is listed as his brother William. It is still unknown at this time, who exactly John’s father was and especially who John’s siblings were. Curiously, on the Green County, Kentucky Tax Lists for the years 1800 and 1830, there is a William Bartlett listed. However, I have yet to establish just who this William was or if he was even related to our John. I believe he very well could have been, but we can’t rely merely on speculation. Hopefully confirmation regarding this William’s relation to our family (if any) can be made in the near future.

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Here are some of the events that took place during the years of John’s possible service in the war. Regardless of his actual participation, he would’ve at the very least been a resident and a possible witness to these events during this time.

_THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR_

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THE YEARS 1780 -1783____THE SOUTHERN CAMPAIGN
.Originally comprised of the armies of; Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Maryland and Delaware were added to the Southern Campaign later in the war. The last commander of the Southern forces was Nathaniel Greene from October, 17 1780 to the end of the war. Green County, Kentucky, the future county in which the Bartlett family would eventually reside was named after General Nathaniel Greene. The most likely unit John would’ve served in the Virginia Cavalry would’ve been the 1st Continental Light Dragoon Regiment (aka Bland’s Horse). This mounted unit was originally organized in Williamsburg, Virginia. When John’ would’ve joined, they were known as the 1st Legionary Corps. They consisted of 4 mounted and 2 dismounted troops. This unit consisted of several different configurations for the duration of the war.

The engagements from 1780 – 1783 that John could have been involved in were:

The Defense of the Carolina’s - These operations consisted of many battles in South Carolina and North Carolina over an 8 1/2 month span. One of the most famous of these battles being The Battle of Cowpens.


...The Battle of Cowpens - January 17, 1781

Cowpens marks the site of the first major defeat of “Bloody” Tarleton and one of the worst disasters of the British southern campaign. Gen. Daniel Morgan used a brilliant tactical maneuver to envelop the British regulars, most of who were killed or captured. This one hour battle was the event that started Cornwallis on his road to Yorktown.

Greene’s Campaign - Operations led by Gen. Nathaniel Greene, on of which included a famous turning point in the war, The Battle of Guilford Courthouse.

...The Battle of Guilford Courthouse - March 15, 1781

The largest, most hotly-contested battle of the Revolutionary War's Southern Campaign was fought at the small North Carolina backcounty hamlet of Guilford Courthouse. Major General Nathanael Greene, defending the ground at Guilford Courthouse with an army of almost 4,500 American militia and Continentals, was tactically defeated by a smaller British army of about 1,900 veteran regulars and German allies commanded by Lord Charles Cornwallis. After 2 1/2 hours of intense and often brutal fighting, Cornwallis forced his opponent to withdraw from the field. Greene's retreat preserved the strength of his army, but Cornwallis's frail victory was won at the cost of over 25% of his army.
Guilford Courthouse proved to be the highwater mark of British military operations in the Revolutionary War. Weakened in his campaign against Greene, Cornwallis abandoned the Carolinas hoping for success in Virginia. At Yorktown, seven months after his victory at Guilford Courthouse, Lord Cornwallis would surrender to the combined American and French forces under General George Washington.

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1st Continental Light Dragoon

All of these battles and campaigns are consistent with John’s location during those years. This is not to suggest he would have participated, only that he could have if he was in the Virginia Cavalry during this time.

Records of pensions paid out to veterans and their families are the most common way for families to claim Revolutionary War heritage. However, congress did not enact any laws prior to 1818, except for the relief of officers and soldiers disabled in the line of duty, so anyone who died before March 18, 1818, and was not disabled in the line of duty, did not receive a pension. A soldier's widow had to appear in person before a court of record to establish her late husband's service and that they married prior to the date set out in the enabling legislation, with documents if possible. John had died in 1801 and his widow remarried 5 years later, so it would appear that a pension would have never been pursued by the family if in fact John was an eligible veteran.
A few ways to further confirm this information for me would be to establish his residence prior to his stint in North Carolina to be Virginia. He would’ve had to have been a previous resident of Virginia to claim land in Kentucky via a military warrant and to have fought in the Virginia Cavalry. Obviously, looking at a map, this is all entirely possible, as Virginia shares a long border with North Carolina, where he previously resided. However, territories changed boundaries once the western portion of Virginia became Kentucky and portions of Virginia and North Carolina became Tennessee which adds to the confusion. As I mentioned previously if it were possible to find out who this John Bartlett (or his family) sold this land to we may have our answer. It was in the name of a John and his heirs as of the survey date in 1797 and no Bartlett’s are shown to have settled there or ever lived in the area according to census records. Was this because he died 4 years after the survey? Was this even our John? We may never know.

I would eventually like to confirm this one way or another. I did inquire into John’s war service with the D.A.R. database and they advised me that no one has claimed membership with them using this particular John Bartlett’s service. None of the other John Bartlett's in their records match our John either. So, if enough evidence could be found to confirm his residency, war service, his ownership of this piece of land and our direct family link to this John, a D.A.R or S.A.R. membership could possibly be yours using a Bartlett ancestor. But, for now, the evidence I currently have still gives me enough to go on to keep trying to research this further.