Saturday, December 6, 2014

Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Ancestor
 
Only if we conduct genealogical research of our family lineages are we apt to discover stories about ordinary Americans who in two-centuries old wars volunteered to fight for their ideals.  I am proud of my father’s ancestry.  It begins in 1635 with a man of compassion and extends through my father, who, when I was probably 12, refused to sign a petition that advocated efforts to keep African-Americans out of our Pasadena, California, neighborhood.  This post is about the most unique ancestor of my line, John Titus of Moriah, New York.  Before I tell his story, however, I need to write about that first Titus immigrant in America.
 
Robert Titus was born in 1600, probably in St. Catherine’s Parish, near Abbots, Hertfordshire, some 30 miles north of London, England.  He married Hannah Carter, the daughter of Robert Carter and Petronilla Curle, June 24, 1624, in Watford Parish.  Robert, Hannah, and their two children left England for America on the Hopewell April 3, 1635.  Robert was described on the Hopwell's passenger list as being a husbandman (farmer).  He was 35 years old, Hannah was 31, and their two sons John and Edmund were 8 and 5.  Robert was granted a plot of land in the present town of Brookline, Massachusetts. He and his family lived in Brookline for two or three years and then moved to the town of Weymouth.  They belonged to the Church of Weymouth where Rev. Samuel Newman was pastor from 1639 to 1643.  In 1643 Rev. Newman and most of his parishioners, including the Tituses, left Weymouth, moved south, and founded Rehoboth in Plymouth Colony, not far from present-day Providence, Rhode Island.  Each founder was required to provide the value of his estate.  The value of a man’s estate determined the size of land he would be granted.  Robert Titus reported his estate to be worth 156 pounds and 10 shillings.  He was granted 8 acres.  Each land owner had until April 20th of the following year to fence his lot or he would have to forfeit his land and leave the settlement.
 
Robert was a fairly important man in early Rehoboth.  In 1645 he was chosen by the town along with three others to inspect the quality of the fences of each lot and to levy fines on those whose fences did not meet town standards. That same year a levy was made on each estate to be paid in butter or wampum and Robert was chosen to be a collector of the revenue. In 1649 and 1650 Robert was chosen to be a Deputy of the Court along with a Stephen Paine.  In 1654, he fell out of favor with the town authorities.  “According to the town records Robert was called into court on June 6, 1654. At that meeting he was told to move his family out of the Plymouth Colony for allowing Abner Ordway and a woman with children, ‘persons of evil fame’ to live in his home” (Titus 6).  Genealogists believe that Ordway and the woman were Quakers.  Robert took his family to Long Island, where his younger son, Edmund, became a Quaker. Robert died in Huntington, Long Island, probably in 1679.  His older son John, a land holder, remained in Rehoboth.  It is through John that most New England Tituses today trace their ancestry to Robert.   
 
Robert’s Male Descendants leading to John Titus V:
 
John Titus, born 1627, St. Catherine’s Parish, England; died April 16, 1689, Rehoboth, Massachusetts Colony.  8 children by 2 wives.  Lived 61 years.  Fought in King Philip’s War
 
John Titus II, born December 18, 1650, Rehoboth; died December 2, 1697, Rehoboth.  9 children by 2 wives.  Lived 46 years.  Fought in King Philip’s War
 
John Titus III, born March 12, 1678, Rehoboth; died April 16, 1758, Rehoboth.  8 children by 3 wives.  Lived 80 years
 
Ebenezer Titus, born March 29, 1714, Rehoboth; died in 1794, probably in Voluntown, Connecticut.  6 children.  Lived 79 or 80 years
 
John Titus IV, born August 23, 1739, Rehoboth; died at an unknown date.  Perhaps 12 children.  He moved to Voluntown, Connecticut, in 1763 and to Rockingham, Vermont, in 1775.  He was living in Pittsford, Vermont, in 1790, according to the U.S. Census.
 
John Titus V, born October 28, 1763, Rehoboth; died March 4, 1858, Moriah, New York.  8 children.  Fought in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.  Lived 94 years
 
The National Archives in Washington, D.C., in response to an inquiry made by Mrs. Erma Titus of Salt Lake City Feb. 11, 1932, stated that John V and his family moved from Rehoboth to Voluntown, Windham County, Connecticut, when he was approximately a year old.   He remained there until the late spring of 1775 when he and his parents and siblings moved to Rockingham, Vermont. 
 
According to the supplemental statement that he made many years later to obtain a Revolutionary War pension, John fixed the date of 1775 “from the fact that he well remembers that on the way to Vermont he heard the battle at Bunker Hill had taken place.  … he resided with his father in Rockingham until the seventeenth year of age when in 1780” he joined Captain Jesse Safford’s Vermont company under Major Ebenezer Allen and served for perhaps nine months a part of which was at and about Bethel, where he helped build a small fort called Fort Fortitude.
 
On October 16, 1780, nearby Royalton, Vermont, was raided.  “The Raid was conducted by a war party of 265 Mohawks and Abenakis, commanded by a British officer, Lieutenant Richard Houghton, who was operating under orders from the British high command in Canada, Lieutenant General Frederick Haldemand. It was all part of the British War effort.

"Royalton at that time was a collection of a couple dozen log cabins scattered along the Second Branch of the White River. The Raid would provide valuable captives, and would spread fear and disorder along the northern frontier - all desirable benefits for the British military - which by 1780 was all too certain it was losing the war.

"And so, early on October 16th, the British-led Indians attacked, burning cabins, capturing hostages [24 of them], and killing four residents of the White River Valley” (Slyton 1).  The raid was carried out in conjunction with other raids conducted along the shores of Lake Champlain and Lake George and in the Mohawk River Valley.  John Titus’s company arrived at Royalton too late to be of assistance.  Houghton’s attackers and their captives were on their way back to Canada.  John’s company stayed at Royalton 2 weeks. 
 
A year later John joined Captain Nehemiah Lovell’s company in Colonel Benjamin Wait’s Vermont regiment and served another 9 months, part of it about Bernard, also near Royalton.  During his stay at both Bethel and Barnard, each of his companies was divided into several scouting parties.  In his original statement made years later to obtain a pension he remembered “several incidents of skirmishes and hair-breath escapes and of fire and murder and pillage by the Indians.”  (I wish I knew the details)
 
In the spring of 1782 John visited his grandfather, Ebenezer Titus, in Voluntown, Connecticut, with the intention of remaining there for a time and then going to sea.  On the advice of his friends he was induced to enlist for a year in Captain Daniel Allen’s Company, Colonel Samuel Canfield’s Connecticut Regiment.  He received a small bounty for enlisting.  He served most of his 12 months in the Long Island Sound and about Horse Neck (Grennwich), Connecticut).  He was discharged in 1783 after his regiment had learned that peace between England and the United States had been declared.
 
John returned to Voluntown, Connecticut.  He signed up as a crew member on the whaling ship Rising Sun out of Providence, Rhode Island, Paul Giles of Nantucket commanding.  The ship worked along the coastline of South America and, later, about the West Indies.  John returned to Rehoboth, Massachusetts, during the winter of 1785 and married there on June 15 of the following year Mehitable Fuller.  For the next 6 or 7 years he rode the seas, principally as a whaler, returning to Voluntown long enough periodically to sire three children, born in 1787, 1789, and 1791.  Later in life he often remarked that he had eaten bread on the four quarters of the globe.
 
John and his growing family moved about considerably after he quit the sea.  His fourth child was born in Voluntown in 1793.  Thereafter, he lived in several towns in Vermont.  His obituary, printed by the Burlington, Vermont, Weekly Sentinel, mentioned Pitfall, Cornwall, Orwell, Hinesburg, and Addison.  A shoemaker by trade, he stayed for awhile in Shoreham.  His fifth child, Russell Lloyd Titus, was born in 1800 in Elizabethtown, New York.  His last child, Alanson Titus, was born in Hinesburg, Vermont, in 1810.
 
Living in Hinesburg in 1813, he enlisted as a private in Captain J. B. Murdock’s Company, Colonel George McFeeley’s 25th Regiment U.S. Infantry.  He was 50 years old.  His son Russell Titus commented years later that his father’s age “was such as would exclude him and his manly vigor was such that he was accepted.  When asked his age, he answered, ‘I am old enough to be a good soldier.’”  John’s oldest son, John Jr. – called Jack – also enlisted.  John was stationed in northern New York.  He was wounded in the right arm and was ruptured in the groin near Ogdensburgh, New York, along the St. Lawrence River during the Battle of Cryslers Farm November 11, 1813.  The battle marked the end of American’s ambition to capture Montreal.  Major General James Wilkinson’s defeated forces withdrew from the St. Lawrence area to spend the winter at Plattsburg, New York.  102 Americans had been killed and 237 had been wounded.  120 had been taken prisoners.  John’s son Jack was killed July 5, 1814, in the Battle of Chippawa, along the Niagara River in Ontario, Canada.  60 Americans were killed; 249 were wounded; 19 were reported missing.  John was discharged September 19, 1814.  His discharge paper described him as being 40 years old, the color of his hair light, his eyes blue, his complexion light, and his height 5 feet 7 inches.  Until his death in 1858 he received a disability pension, annually.
 
John lived for several years in Addison County (perhaps in the town of Addison) before moving across Lake Champlain to settle in Moriah, New York.  He may have been living in Moriah as early as 1825 because his daughter Mehitable died and was buried there that same year.  The 1830 U.S. Census confirmed Moriah to be his place of residence.  He and his wife were living there with their blind son, Russell.   “On moving to Moriah,” his obituary stated, “he found a wide region where he could indulge in his favorite sport of hunting, it then being an almost unbroken wilderness from the Adirondack mountains to the St. Lawrence River and abounding in game of various kinds.  Through all this region he pursued his game until he was familiar with every path of it.”
 
I have a copy of a statement Russell dictated to his daughter-in-law, Lucy Maria Eaton Titus, many years later.  In it Russell explained that due to his brother Jack’s service in the War of 1812, their father was entitled to the land warrant that Jack would have received had he lived.  John signed the warrant over to Russell “to Illinois in 1821 where I took an inflammation in my eyes which ended in total blindness in the year of 1824, since which time I have had no more vision from either eye than from my hand.  I returned from the west to Ohio with a team and from there to Vermont on horseback having just enough sense of vision to guide me, and went immediately to New York eye infirmary and there learned that I must live in blackness the rest of my days, my sight gone, my parents poor, and my pocket empty.  I commenced peddling with $9.00 worth of tinware.  I followed peddling six years and had made enough money and with my father’s pension (as I had a home with him) I bought a small stock of Yankee notions and tinware and settled in Moriah Centre where I got together enough to build me a house and buy land.  Afterwards I built a store and two other dwellings and have so prospered as to make a good deal of money and to lose a good deal with others in business.”  Russell married Mary Parmenter, daughter of Oliver Parmenter and Nancy McIntire, in Moriah probably in 1830 because their first child, Amanda, was born there in August 1831.
 
After Congress had passed the June 7, 1832, act that authorized Revolutionary War soldiers still alive to received annual pension payments, John inquired if he were eligible, given that he was receiving a disability pension for service in the War of 1812.  He was told erroneously by a cashier of the Bank of Vergennes (in Vermont), where he drew his disability pension, that he could not draw two pensions at the same time.  He made no further inquiries for several years.  Eventually, he consulted in Moriah a young lawyer who told him that for other reasons – inaccuracies of records of his dates of service – that he could not receive a Revolutionary War pension.  It wasn’t until nearly 1850 that he was told he might be eligible.  His subsequent efforts to convince federal authorities of his actual years of service were ultimately successful.  On June 7, 1854, he was authorized to receive $69.66 annually and be paid in arrears from March 4, 1831.
 
John Titus died in Moriah March 4, 1858, at the age of 94.  His obituary stated: “At the last presidential election [1856] Mr. Titus came to the poll and after depositing his vote [for John C. Fremont], remarked that he voted for George Washington, the first President of the United States, that he had voted for president and for freedom and was now ready for the ‘Call of Roll,’ meaning thereby that his mission on earth was finished and that he was ready to leave this world.”
 
I am proud that John Titus is one of my ancestors.  He and Deliverance and Oliver Parmenter (read my December 1, 2014, post)) have much to do with my particular interest in the Revolutionary War. 
 
For what it is worth, here is how John’s line of descent reaches me.
 
Russell L. Titus, born February 16, 1800, Elizabethtown, New York; died October 23, 1884, Moriah, New York.  6 children.  Lived 84 years
 
Edwin Bristol Titus, born October 21, 1832, Moriah; died March 11, 1876, Moriah.  5 children.  Lived 43 years
 
Joel Columbus Titus, born January 31, 1869, Moriah; died April 29, 1943, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey.  3 children.  Lived 74 years
 
Homer Eaton Titus, born November 23, 1898, Mt. Vernon, New York; died December 20, 1963, Los Angeles, California.  2 children.  Lived 65 years
 
Harold Wesley Titus (me), born August 17, 1934, Mt. Kisco, New York.  3 children
 
Works Cited:
 
Slayton, Tom.  “Slayton: The Royalton Raid.”  VPR.net Home Commentary Series.  Vermont Public Radio.  December 2, 2010, 7:55 a.m.  http://www.vpr.net/episode/50008/slayton-royalton-raid/.  December 5, 2014.  Web. 
 
Titus, Leo J., Jr.  Titus: A North American Family History.  Baltimore, Gateway Press, Inc., 2004.  Print.