Centuries- old war history found in county
Saturday, August 16, 2003
When people think of history in Cape Girardeau County, many things come to mind.
Lewis and Clark; the Trail of Tears; the Missouri state flag's local origin, ...
But the Revolutionary War?
Steve Pledger, the military archive whiz at the county's archive center, is in the process of typing out Revolutionary War pension applications found last month, including a handwritten request by a war veteran to the county court, known today as the county commission.
The three-person archive staff, including Pledger, Cathy Stoverink and archive director Jane Jackson, "accidentally" found several Revolutionary War documents while helping a patron search for information on Christopher Hays, a Revolutionary War veteran who is buried in the Ware Cemetery near Fruitland.
A brainstorming session for relevant documents on Hays led Stoverink and Pledger to a county court book, which had the words "Rev appls" hand-written on it.
"Rev Apples?" Stoverink said aloud at the time.
Pledger knew immediately what the abbreviations meant. Revolutionary War applications.
There were already several pension applications on file at the archives, but Pledger suspected about half of them were missing. Many of the documents at the archives are not indexed, making it difficult to find information.
In all, 13 applications were found in the court books last month. In total, that makes 21 applications at the archives, including one widow's pension request.
What is particularly exciting to Pledger are the eight handwritten pension requests found in the court book. On Thursday, Pledger was typing in a request from a Thomas Bull, which was submitted on Aug. 23, 1832.
"They give locations of what battles they were in, where they were living and a lot more detailed information about their personal life and what they went through in the war."
The 21 pension applications on file are all official documents that were filed by the county.
According to Pledger, the war veteran would have to approach the county court with witnesses. The court would decide if the applicant was a credible person and, if so, would pass along the requests to the national war department.
Bull served as a private and a sergeant in the army in the fall of 1776 and served in the 12th regiment of the Virginia Line. In his pension request, which came more than 50 years after the war, he could only list the last names of some of his superiors because he couldn't remember the first names.
He fought in the battle of Brandywine, which took place near Philadelphia on Sept. 11, 1777, among others.
Linda Hutson, a volunteer at the archive center and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, said it is exciting to find pieces of information that can lead to other avenues of research.
Hutson's fifth great-grandfather, Amos Byrd, fought in the Revolutionary War and settled in the Oak Ridge area, just outside Jackson.
"We have several Revolutionary soldiers buried in our county," she said. "Being that I had family fight in that war makes it important, and through my research I have found a lot of facts about our country."
The Revolutionary War documents are available to the public at the archives center on Hope Street across from the county administrative building.
Filing for support
There are 21 Revolutionary War pension applications on file at the Cape Girardeau County Archive Center. Here is a list of those who applied for pensions (some applicants submitted multiple applications):
Elizabeth Green (widow of John Robert)
Heirs of John Cochran
Source: Cape Girardeau County Archive Center