One of my goals was to learn more about the Goss Family’s involvement in the events of the Revolutionary War and how that affected the Wyoming Valley settlement. This has been no easy task, because of all the fighting over land and other difficulties in the Wyoming Valley which resulted in the destruction of a great deal of the records, especially regarding the local militia.
Paul Revere’s ride 1774 from History Central
I am not an expert on the Revolutionary War, but I finally came to understand that there is what is called the Continental Line or Continental Army and service in this would warrant a pension. So a soldier would probably be on the Revolutionary War Pension lists if they were a soldier in the Continental line.
The next military group was the colonial militias for each colony and you would find information about those soldiers in the archives of the state, like in our case, Pennsylvania or Connecticut. For the Wyoming Valley, specifically Westmoreland Town and County, we would look to Connecticut for this information.
The next group would be the local militia for a township or town and I believe the records would be kept by that local government. In this case, the townships for the Wyoming Valley means that a lot of records were lost with all the fighting. So you need to look at all the different levels of military units/militia. You will find it a challenge because they liked to reinvent the military units combining them and dissolving others.
Donna Bingham Munger writes in her Settlers book the following:
The settlers took their own protection seriously and in June 1774 formed military companies in each township from the Westmoreland Town Meeting July 27, 1774, WR. Such organization stood them in good stead when the Connecticut Assembly established the 24th Connecticut Regiment at Westmoreland the following May 1775.
Source: Connecticut’s Pennsylvania Colony, Volume II Settlers pg. 1-11. Also The History of Wilkes-Barre pg. 811 is another source.
Battle of Wyoming by Dziak
We unanimously join our brethren in American in the common cause of defending our liberty,” declared a panel of Wyoming Valley patriots on August 8, 1775, not long after hearing the news of the first battles of the Revolutionary War.
The colony of Connecticut assumed a leading role in the fight for American Independence from Britain. The Connecticut settlers in Wyoming Valley quickly followed suit, putting aside all of their other troubles to participate in America’s war for independence.
The participation came in many forms. Farmers stepped up their production to provide food for American soldiers. Women made time to craft uniforms, knapsacks, and other essentials, including homemade gunpowder.
Meanwhile the settlement’s young men swarmed to enlist in the army. As early as the summer of 1775 many of Wyoming’s most promising men left to join George Washington’s armies gathered near Boston.
Connecticut was quick to tap the enthusiasm of its settlers in Wyoming. In May 1775, the Connecticut legislature called on them to form their own army, the Twenty-fourth Connecticut Regiment. Wyoming officials quickly obeyed. They drew up plans to form nine companies of soldiers, basing each company on the existing militias that had been formed to protect the settlement.
Zebulon Butler was made colonel of the Twenty-Fourth Regiment….he soon turned the regiment into a formidable fighting unit…..pg. 66
Source for the Above: The Battle of Wyoming For Liberty and Life, Mark G. Dziak, 2008.
In August 1776, the Wyoming settlers met for a town meeting. They…voted to erect suitable forts, as a defense against our common enemy. The Wyoming colonists set about building new forts, and repairing old ones..most were just log cabins surrounded by log stockades..the best they could hope for pg. 67
In August of 1776 two more companies were to be raised in the town of Westmoreland. Robert Durkee and Samuel Ransom were elected Captains. James Wells and Peren Ross were elected 1st Lts., Ashael Buck and Simon Spalding 2nd Lts, and Herman Swift and Matthias Hollenback Ensigns..of the said companies. These would be Westmoreland’s Independent Companies or Wyoming’s Independent Companies)
Source: History of Wilkes-Barre, Oscar Harvey Jewell, Vol. 2, pg. 883 and on page 892 and 893 the roll for Captain Robert Durkee is given. S. Ransoms rolls are on pages 893 through 897. Biographies are in the footnotes for both men on these pages. This volume is online at Internet Archive.
Zebulon Butler would be very involved in the military and political events of the Wyoming Valley for many years. If you would like to learn more about Zebulon Butler’s role there is a wonderful book titled:
Zebulon Butler Book
By early May 1775, news of the events of Lexington and Concord had spread throughout the Colonies. When the Connecticut legislature met at Hartford on May 11, Zebulon Butler and Ezekiel Pierce attended as the Westmoreland representatives. At this session, the Assembly voted to extend the Westmoreland boundaries westward to the Fort Stanwix treaty Line, to erect a Court of Probate, and to appoint Zebulon Butler, Nathan Denison, William Judd, and John Vincent as justices of the peace. In addition, the Assembly voted “That the Town of Westmoreland shall be one Intire Regiment [of militia] distinguish’d and Call’d by the Name of the twenty-fourth Regiment.” Zebulon Butler was appointed colonel, Nathan Denison lieutenant colonel, and William Judd major of the regiment, and they were commissioned as such by the governor….”
Source: Zebulon Butler Hero of the Revolutionary Frontier by James R. Williamson and Linda A. Fossler, Forward by John Lord Butler, Jr., 1995 Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut. This book is a little pricey but you might find copies somewhere.
In, January 1777 General Washington needed troops so Congress ordered the two Westmoreland Independent Companies to Morristown, New Jersey, thus leaving the Wyoming Valley poorly protected from attack.
The two independent companies listed above, eventually ended up as Capt. Spaulding’s Company of Westmoreland, if I read it all correctly. This is all described in The History of Wilkes-Barre Vol. II, on pages 980 and 981 which is available online at Internet Archive.
I have studied the listings for the 24th and the Wyoming Independent companies and had no luck in finding evidence of the Goss family being involved with any of these companies listed above, so this may be why you can’t find Revolutionary war pensions for the Goss family except for Ebenezer Goss who did receive a Revolutionary War pension.
In the next post I will give a short outline of the involvement of the Goss family in the Revolutionary War and follow that up with future detailed posts of each of the family members.
Above, I have listed several sources for research on the Revolutionary War and how it affected the Wyoming Valley settlers. A brief account of the military units that were created as well. Here are several more possibilities for research. Be advised that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
- The Susquehanna Frontier, Northeastern Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary War Years, by James R. Williamson and Linda A. Fossler. Wilkes University Press, 1997.
- Record of Service of Connecticut Men in the I War of the Revolution, II War of 1812, III Mexican War, Compiled by the Authority of the General Assembly, Under Director of the Adjutants-General, Hartford, 1889. This book is online at Internet Archive and I suggest search on-line for it is easier to find things. I find that after I download it becomes harder with my version of Adobe Acrobat. Pages xiv, xii, 131, 157, 168, 169, 263, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268, 295, 301, 311, 318, 337, 359, 440
- The Revolutionary War Diary of Lieut. Obadiah Gore, Jr., Edited by R.W. G. Vail, The New York Public Library, 1929. If you can’t find a diary or account you then turn to those who were there that did write diaries like this man. You will find that this editor had a really hard time compiling the history of the service of this man. Lt. Gore would resign from a unit and go seek out service in another so that also made it difficult. On page 12 I found this quote to be disappointing: “The only remaining units in the brigade were Captain Spaulding’s Independent Wyoming Company and Captain John Franklin’s Wyoming Militia, of neither of which units can a muster roll be found.” I found this book at the David Library for the American Revolution which is north of Philadelphia and a must see archive if you are able: http://www.dlar.org/
- Military Records check these Archives: Pennsylvania Archives in Harrisburg, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Connecticut State Library in Hartford, Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford. David Library of the American Revolution. They can be divided up into Records, and Manuscript collections, published sources, finding aids etc.
- The Historical Record, A Monthly Publication, The Early History of Wyoming Valley and Contiguous Territory with Notes and Queries…Edited by F.C. Johnson, M.D. Vol. I Sept 1886 to Aug 1887, Press of the Wilkes-Barre Record. Page 211 An Old Time Military Co, Capt. John Franklin 1782. Early Wyoming Militia page 38 looks like a duplicate of the first listing, pay roll of Company Militia under Capt. John Franklin page 1229 dated May 1780. Online at Internet Archive. This is an important magazine for Wyoming Valley history of all topics so check out other Volumes.
- Online resources are Ancestry.com for military records (Be advised that many Goss names come out of New Hampshire and are descendants of Philip Goss IV’s cousin also named Philip Goss who went to Winchester, NH. Fold3 (formerly Footnote) has pensions and more, Family Search online, the National Archives. You will find a lot at these sites.
- DAR Daughters of the American Revolution (Ancestry search), SAR Sons of the American Revolution.
Some Pennsylvania sources:
- The Pennsylvania Militia, Defending the Commonwealth and the Nation: 1669-1870, by Samuel J. Newland, Ph.D. This might be helpful for Pennsylvania information. Page 101 and others. Be careful and do not confuse Westmoreland Co., PA est. 2/26/1773 with Westmoreland Co., Litchfield Co., CT.
- The Pennsylvania Line, Regimental Organization and Operations, 1775 to 1783, by John B.B. Trussell, Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, 1977. This one to my surprise is online at Internet Archive for viewing. You will find on pages 108, 144, 282, 288 information about the Wyoming Valley but mostly this is after the Massacre in 1778. Westmoreland Co., PA is also featured on pages 54, 59, 102, 106, 112, 166, 170, 174-75, 238, 241. On page 227 The Regiment of Artillery Artificers. I will revisited this when I post about Ebenezer Goss, son of Philip and Mary Goss.