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REVOLUTIONARY WAR SERVICE

CAPTAIN BENJAMIN ROBERTS According to the book titled "Spotsylvania County, Virginia Guardian Bonds Will Book" on page 70, William Thomas became Guardian of Benjamin Roberts on 2-1-1756, the orphan of John Roberts. Then on 12-6, 1726 William Payton became his guardian. In the book "Kentucky Land Grants" I find that Benjamin Roberts received the following for his war service:1) 400 acres in Fayette County on BR Licking Creek in 1784. 2)1000 acres in Fayette County on Br Licking Creek in 1785. 3) 500 acres in Jefferson County in 1786. 4) 20,000 acres in Jefferson County on Salt River in 1785. 5) 160 acres in an un-named location and date. So between 1874 and 1876 Benjamin received 22,060 acres in land grants. According to the Virginia Revolutionary War Records database Captain Benjamin Roberts Company was under Colonel Slaughter's Corps. In the book Revolutionary War Records of Virginia, Section IV, Ballard Bland was 83 in 1842 in Virginia and he went to Harrodsburg, Kentucky where he knew the brothers Benjamin, John, William, and Joseph Roberts. Benjamin was a Captain in George Rogers Clark's Illinois Regiment and his brother Joseph was a private under him. His brothers John and William were Lieutenants in his regiment. In the Spring of 1780 they arrived at the Falls of the Ohio where Louisville is now. In the same book Benjamin Roberts,82, makes a statement on April 15 of 1832 that he was at the Falls of the Ohio during the War. Benjamin received $1415.33 for his service pay. In the book Virginia Soldiers of 1776, volume one, from Jefferson County, Kentucky, Benjamin Roberts testified that he is now in his seventy-ninth year. That in 1779 he was appointed a Captain in the Virginia State Line in the War of The Revolution. That he was commissioned as such by Governor Jefferson and proceeded to enlist men for two years, and that he raised a company of men for that time. That in the month of March he arrived with his Company at the Falls of the Ohio, now Louisville, and shortly after the residue of his company and one other was put under the command of Major or Lieutenant George Stoughton, who had come by water. That he served as Captain as aforesaid until the service of his men expired, and they were discharged, but that he continued in that situation until the termination of the war; not having resigned nor having received any notice, he held himself ready to obey any order. Also listed in these books, American Biographical Library, The Biographical Cyclopedia of American Women Volume II, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution, Alphabetical List of Officers of the Continental Army R Fifteenth Virginia, page 468 Benjamin Roberts. Benjamin Roberts was a Captain of General George Rogers Clark's Illinois Regiment from 1778 to 1781. Ironically my 6th great grandfather on my father's side, Solomon Kessinger, was under the command of my 6th great grandfather on my mother's side, Benjamin Roberts.

In 1778 General George Rogers Clark traveled down the Ohio River to the Falls of the Ohio with soldiers and many families who joined the military convoy for security and protection from American Indian attacks. Clark gathered his troops on the promise that they were going to be defending the Kentucky settlements against further Indian attacks. Promising each man the payment of 300 acres of land for his service, the General led his men down the mighty Ohio River. When Clark and his troops neared the area called the Falls of the Ohio, or The Rapids, they moved into the slower current near the Cain-Tuk-Y bank and pulled up on an island on May 27, 1778. The swiftly moving water lead towards the only navigational hazard on the entire 981 miles of the Ohio River, The Falls. General Clark and his men built a small stockade with shelters and planted a crop of corn on the seven-acre island and the island was appropriately named Corn Island thereafter.

After Clark informed his troops of their true mission to capture the British strongholds, they boarded their flatboats and pushed off from Corn Island and into history. As the men entered the rapids, a full solar eclipse blocked the sun from the sky. The men wondered whether it was an omen of ill will or one of good luck. Compared with what was to come, the momentarily darkened sky was the least of their worries. The general led his men on through unbearable weather conditions, days on end without food and later marched them through the flooded countryside in the depth of winter. But, success was to be their reward for their efforts.

Clark trained his troops at Corn Island and launched a successful campaign into the lands to the north, capturing British posts at Kaskaskia and Cahokia on the Mississippi River and Vincennes on the Wabash River. However, British Lieutenant Governor Hamilton marched from Detroit and recaptured Vincennes from the Americans. Settling in for the winter of 1778-79, Hamilton planned to reclaim the two Mississippi posts in the spring. Clark never gave him that opportunity. In a daring concept, considered one of the boldest in American military history, Clark took fewer than 200 men on foot across 175 miles of flooded, frozen plains to recapture the British fort at Vincennes. This dangerous mission took almost three weeks, but British spies never sighted Clark's men. When Clark ordered his men to begin firing on the fort, the British did not know how many Americans were surrounding them. Clark's frontiersmen were deadly shots, convincing the British that they were outnumbered. Hamilton surrendered and Clark ensured American control of the Northwest Territory-a region that included the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Increased Indian harassment of the Kentucky settlers led Clark to call a meeting of representatives from all the forts at Harrodsburg, KY in June 1776. He and another delegate were elected to go to Virginia to seek a more definite connection between Kentucky and Virginia. They wanted recognition and protection as a county, and failing this, Clark advocated a separate state. Gov. Patrick Henry and the Executive Council granted him 500 pounds of gunpowder for the defense of Kentucky, and the General Assembly made Kentucky a county of Virginia.

After receiving reports from two spies he had sent to the Illinois country, Clark returned to Virginia to outline a plan of attack to Governor Henry. He received authority from the General Assembly to raise a force for the defense of Kentucky and a commission as Lieutenant Colonel over a force of seven companies with 50 men each. Secretly, Henry gave him written orders to attack Kaskaskia and posts in the Illinois Country. With battles raging in the East, Clark had difficulty raising the authorized force and finally set out from Redstone and Fort Pitt with only 150 frontiersmen and some 20 settlers and their families. Reaching the Falls of Ohio, they established a supply base on Corn Island and were joined by a handful of reinforcements from the Holston River settlements.

Clark revealed his plan to attack Kaskaskia and was hard-pressed to prevent desertions. On June 26, 1778, 175 men left for Kaskaskia. They "shot the falls" during a total eclipse of the sun and concluded that this was a good omen for the campaign (perhaps at Clark's suggestion?). With oars double-manned they avoided detection and reached the mouth of the Tennessee River where they hid the boats and marched overland for six days. They were dressed in Indian fashion and proceeded single-file in order to leave fewer tracks to reveal their presence.They surprised Kaskaskia on the night of July 4, occupying the fort and the town without a shot being fired. Clark offered the French inhabitants "all of the privileges of American citizenship" in return for their oath of allegiance of safe conduct out of the area. This offer and the news of the recent French-American alliance won their support. Captain Bowman was then dispatched to Cahokia, Prairie Du Rocher and St. Phillip. These communities also accepted Clark's terms without resistance.

Kaskaskia's priest, Father Gibault, went to Vincennes and secured the allegiance of the French there to Clark, and Captain Helm was sent to take command of Fort Sackville. Meanwhile, at Kaskaskia, Clark used August and September to gather Indian tribes from as far as 500 miles away. He offered them the red belt of war or the white belt of peace, and by his understanding of the Indian concept of manhood and some skillfully applied 'bluff' he succeeded in winning their neutrality during the coming campaign. As George Rogers Clark pushed onward through British territory, he succeeded in capturing the forts at Vincennes, Cascaskia, and Cahokia, winning control of the Northwest Territory and doubling the size of the newly forming United States of America. All of this was accomplished without the loss of one man. In fact, it has been theorized that if Clark had not been as victorious as he was against the British, the Canadian and U.S. border might have been the Ohio River. Now there is something to think about!!}

SOLOMON KESSINGER played an important part in the conquest of the Northwest Territory under General George Rogers Clark during the Revolutionary War. In the spring of 1778, General Clark, along with Solomon, his family, and other families including the Logsdons and Greenwalts, floated down the Ohio River in flat boats to the Falls of the Ohio where they erected the first structure on the present site of Louisville. They had to build a fort for protection against the Indians and the British. Originally located on Corn Island, in the Ohio River, the settlement moved to it s present site in 1779. The conquest of General Clark and his men allowed the U.S. to claim the region after the Revolutionary War and develop it into the Northwest Territory in 1787. Louisville was named in 1780 for Louis XVI of France in gratitude for French assistance in the American Revolution. General Clark acting on authority of the Legislature of Virginia descended the Ohio with a detachment of 300 men, a military force destined to the reduction of Kaskia, Cahokia and Vincennes, the then British possessions. In order to deceive the enemy the general landed his troops at Corn Island. For about twenty years during and after this time Solomon and his family lived in the forts "Beargrass", "Acres Valley", and "Kettle Creek". In the month of May, 1778, George Rogers Clark set out from Redstone, Pennsylvania on the Monongahela River, with one hundred and fifty raw militia for the conquest of British posts in Illinois Country. In the boats that bore his soldiers, against his will, some twenty families had assembled at the place of embarkation for the immigration to the new lands of Kentucky. Among them were Solomon and Elizabeth Greenwalt Kessinger. Their son Jacob, our ancestor, was five years old when his family made the perilous journey. The conquest of General Clark and his men allowed the United States to claim the region after the Revolutionary War and develop it into the Northwest Territory in 1787. The following details the adventures of Solomon's family and other settlers as they raised their families and endured harsh conditions against almost insurmountable odds.

When the Falls of the Ohio were reached on May 27, 1778, General Clark landed on Corn Island for the purpose of disciplining his raw troops in quarters from which they could not escape. He feared that when he told his troops his purpose of leading them among the savages of the Illinois County that some would try to desert, and he had none to spare. On the island, surrounded by the swift waters of the rapids, he felt that he could hold them until he could make of them such soldiers as would not desert, but would fight with him against all odds to victory or to death. Clark and his forces destroyed the main British centers, Kaskaska and Cahokia, from which the hostile Indians were supplied with arms. Clark and his men also took Vincennes and other enemy posts in the Illinois country. He mobilized his forces and led the men through the bitterest cold, fording streams and pressing over frozen swampland to complete an incredible march that covered 180 miles in 18 days. His tough pioneers fell on the British, took Vincennes, and broke the enemies hold on a huge tract of land called the Northwest Territory. For protection of his stores, as well as for shelter of his little army, Clark erected block houses on Corn Island, and now found that the families that he had unwillingly took with him on his boats would be of valuable service in caring for the stores that he could not take with him on the expedition. By the help of these families he could take every able-bodied soldier to fight against the British. Leaving these families on the island made it necessary to erect cabins which were built out of the trees that grew on the island. The large cottonwood trees were felled and their trunks cut into sections sixteen feet in length, and split into rails and boards, with which the houses were built and covered. When all were finished they presented the form of an Egyptian cross. There were 18 cabins in all, six of them making the block houses and twelve the family habitations.

These families became the founders of Louisville. The Falls of the Ohio were never without inhabitants after their arrival. The territory on which these colonists were placed was a fair little island. It stood above the river floods and contained 43 acres. It was covered with a dense growth of cottonwoods and sycamores, one of the later of which was cut down to make a powder mill and showed a trunk ten feet in diameter and lifted it's branches more than 100 feet into the air. Except the wild fowl shot on the island and the fish taken from the surrounding waters, all meat had to be procured from the shore, which was made hazardous by roving Indians. In spite of the danger the love of the chase sent hunting parties whenever there was a need, who seldom failed to return with buffalo and venison. A field had been cleared along side of the cabins and the rich soil sent up cornstalks to the height of sixteen feet, bearing ears fifteen inches long with about six ears per stalk, hence the name Corn Island. The garden also produced pumpkins the size of flour barrels.

A source of pleasure to the islanders was a fiddle in the hands of Cato Watts, a slave who belonged to Captain John Donne. Cato would play for hours in the shade of the trees while young and old joined in the "Virginia Reel", the "Irish Jig", and the "Highland Fling". When Sunday came, however, the fiddle was silent and all joined in the singing of hymns. One can almost picture Solomon and Elizabeth Kessinger as they danced to the music of the fiddle and were able to put out of their minds briefly the harshness of the conditions from which they suffered. Imagine their family sitting in church and Elizabeth trying to quiet her children so the sermon would be heard.

When General Clark and his men had conquered the Illinois country in July, 1778, the families he had left at the falls felt that the greatest dangers from the Indians had been removed and that they might leave the confined quarters of their island and risk residence on the main shore. Under the directions of Clark they began building a fort on the east side of a ravine that entered the Ohio River on the foot of what is now the present 12th Street. The fort was 200 feet long by 100 feet wide and consisted of eight single story, double log cabins on each of the two short sides. At each of the four corners was a block house two stories high and 24 feet square. All of these buildings surrounded an inner court, which served for a muster ground, a place for storage, and a corral for cattle and horses.

As the 25th of December, 1778 approached, the fort was near enough completion for partial occupancy. The islanders determined to move into it and celebrate their first Christmas there together in the wilderness. Hunters were sent into the woods to secure an ample supply of venison, bear, buffalo, wild turkey, and opossum meats for the grand dinner. Women lost no time in getting ready their dishes of hominy, cornbread, ash cake, and pumpkin pie. Imagine Solomon's excitement as one of the hunters who helped provide this first Christmas meal, or Elizabeth's anticipation of the day as she helped to prepare the meal. When the 25th arrived the table was laden with all good things and an opossum baked whole as the centerpiece. When the mark of the sundial indicated noon the table was surrounded by all the men, women, and children of the fort. No one went hungry that day.

Since landing on Corn Island in 1778, the people had doubled their population. Some dwelt in the original cabins on Corn Island, others at the foot of 12th Street, and still others in log cabins erected within range of the guns of the fort. The town's future was anything but encouraging. Even the climate seemed arrayed against the colonists in the terrible winter of 1779-80 through which they passed in their frail cabins on the island and in their rude fort on the shore. From the middle of November to the middle of February the ground was covered with snow. The Ohio River was frozen from shore to shore and large and heavy animals crossed over it as if it were land. Buffalo and deer, unable to get to their food beneath the snow now grew lean and perished from hunger and cold. Wild turkeys, exposed to winds high on their perches froze and dropped dead from their roosts. In the middle of such weather the pioneers had to hunt in the icy forests for their daily meat, and shiver in their miserable hovels for their nightly rest, but they had the elements of endurance and progress, and with brave hearts and iron wills, they laid the foundation of a city. Our very existence was made possible by the efforts of our ancestors who braved the odds of such conditions to make possible the opportunities and blessings we take for granted today, This excerpt was taken from the book, "George Rogers Clark and the History of Louisville".

DAVID MCCLURE AND JEDIAH AHSCRAFT (HIS FATHER-IN-LAW) served in the Eight Pennsylvania Regiment as a chaplain during the Revolutionary War along with his brother John McClure, a sergeant, and his father-in-law Jediah Ashcraft. It is not known what date the McClures arrived at the Falls of the Ohio to join Clark, but it is said that they built a cabin with the lumber from their boat. Jediah was already with Clark at his arrival to the falls. His wife Elizabeth was born between 1766 and 1767 and is the daughter of Jediah Ashcraft and Nancy Friend. Elizabeth was first married to Shepard Gum. Elizabeth's father Jediah Ashcraft is listed as being in Philip Philip's Fort (Hodgenville) as early as 1783 along with Daniel, John and Jacob Ashcraft who were most likely kin to him. Jediah received land in the Big Clifty section of Grayson County, Kentucky in the 1780's for his service with George Rogers Clark's regiment during the Revolutionary War. He was killed by the Indians in 1794. David McClure moved from Louisville to Hardin County and lived on a farm near the South Fork Church in what was to become Larue County. He was listed in the 1800 Hardin County tax list and in 1810 he is listed as living in Grayson County In the Big Clift section where his father-in-law took up lands in 1783. Jedoah Ashcraft was with Clark's force during their journey to the falls and received a Land Warrent from the Commonwealth of Virginia for his service with General George Rogers Clark during the Northwest Campaign. Jediah was likely one of the group of Virginia volunteers called the "Long Knives" by the Indians. The Land Warrant reads "Unto George Rogers Clark in trust for recruiting his battalion and in lieu of the bounty of seven hundred and fifty dollars is granted by the said Commonwealth of Virginia unto Jediah Ashcraft a certain tract or parcel of land containing five hundred and sixty acres by survey bearing the date of March 1, 1783 and lying and being in the County of Jefferson, on the North Branch of Ashcraft Creek waters of Rough Creek, being the first south branch of Little Clifty". Signed by Patrick Henry on April 2, 1783.

Clark and his men destroyed the main British centers, Kaskaskia and Cahokia, from which the hostile Indians were supplied with arms. Clark and his men also took Vincennes (now in Indiana) and other posts in the Illinois country. In December, 1778 the British recaptured Vincennes. Clark mobilized his forces and led the men through the bitterest cold, fording streams and pressing over frozen swampland to complete an incredible march that covered 180 miles in 18 days. His tough pioneers fell on the British, took Vincennes, and broke the enemy's hold on a huge tract called the Northwest territory. For protection of his stores, as well as for shelter for his little army, he erected block houses on the little island, and now found that the families that he had unwilling took with him on his boats would be of valuable service in caring for the stores that he could not take with him on the expedition. With the help of these families he could take with him every able-bodied soldier to fight against the British. Jediah Ashcraft's daughter Elizabeth (born 1667) who married David McClure would have been about twenty years old at this time as she stayed behind on the island with her mother Nancy Friend Ashcraft.

MOSES TAYLOR was a private in Captain Timberlake's Company of Foot and served in the Regiment of Albermarle Gaurds commanded by Colonel Frances Taylor, also know as Taylor's Virginia Regiment, during the Revolutionary War. He was aged 45 and he served for 60 days. At one time Moses owned 800 acres of land located largely along the South side of the Neuse River in Craven County, North Carolina. He lived in Craven County from 1756 to 1794. He was also a citizen known as a regulator who ran English Governor Josiah Martin out of Tyran in 1775. Tyran Place was the seat of English government in New Bern. Plans were made for an early 1795 move to the state of Kentucky, which was newly established in 1792. A large party, in wagons with household goods, oxen and live stock, crossed North Carolina to the Cumberland Gap in Kentucky which had been discovered by Daniel Boone some 20 years earlier. Below Cumberland Falls they built 13 barges and traveled the Cumberland River to Tennessee, then to the Ohio River near Evansville, Indiana and on down the Green River to what is the confluence of the Barren River. Moses's farm is now on Highway 231 at Gasper River Bridge about ten miles from Bowling Green, Kentucky. Two log barns are still standing after over 200 years.

ROBERT HAZELIP served in the Revolution according to Perrins History of Kentucky and married MILLIAN WEBB in North Carolina where they both were born. Roberts parents were Irish and Millian's were Welsh according to Perrin's History of Kentucky. They migrated to Barren County, Kentucky around 1810 where they remained for a short time until they located near the mouth of the Nolan River above Brownsville, Kentucky and entered and improved several hundred acres.}

PAUL FERGUSON was a Revolutionary War patriot for Craven County, North Carolina Line 2nd Regiment. Late in the year of 1824 Paul traveled to what is now the Dexterville Community to visit fellow soldier William Beasley. Paul died while he was there and was buried near the present site of Mount Vernon Missionary Baptist Church. His estate was settled December 30, 1824. Originally his grave site bore a sandstone marker stating "Paul Ferguson. Died about 1825". During the 1930's the WPA (Works Progress Administration) rebuilt the Dexterville Road routing it perilously close to the grave site. They removed the sandstone marker and fence surrounding the grave and erected a metal marker bearing the same information in it's place. Recently in 1999 a committee formed of the Descendants of Paul Ferguson made an attempt to locate and transfer the remains to Mount Vernon Cemetery. They obtained permits from the state highway department and the Kentucky Department of Human Resources to exhume the body under the direction of Coroner Gerald Jones on November 10th. The attempt was unsuccessful and the metal marker was put back in place until future plans can be made. Plans for an historic marker to be placed on the original site of the grave are underway, as are plans for a DAR monument to be placed in the Mount Vernon Cemetery.

JEREMIAH DOWNS born 1746 in Baltimore County, Maryland , was married in Pennsylvania to ELIZABETH COVIN the daughter of William Covin who was a trader . This is based on William Covin's will which lists a granddaughter as Mary Downs. A 1798 tax record has Jeremiah's land, 221 acres, adjoining William Covin's land. Thomas and Elizabeth lived in the Redstone Township in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. When Jeremiah downs went to Pennsylvania, before 1768, he was among the early settlers and was a prosperous farmer. He was also a veteran of the American Revolution. In a book titled "Fayette County History" there is a record dating to 1768 of trader William Covin's accounts which lists Thomas Downs and his son Jeremiah Downs. In the same book in a number of places Thomas Downs is listed with the inhabitants of Redstone attending a meeting of Pennsylvania Commissioners held March 27, 1768 to warn settlers off the land until it was purchased from the Indians. Jeremiah's will, dated August 12, 1816, states that he left four thousand dollars and 221 acres to his wife and eight children. Jeremiah served in the American Revolution from Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, from which Fayette County was formed in 1783. }