Family Stories

Pioneer Soldiers in Kentucky 1778-1781

In History of Kentucky by Judge Lewis Collins, and his son Richard H. Collins, is a section on names of soldiers of Kentucky County, Virginia.  Since there are so many who can trace their ancestry back to these early pioneers, they are listed according to the captains under whom they served.

The County of Kentucky – Names of Its Soldiers

From original papers and vouchers of Col. John Bowman, the first military commander and military governor of the County – now State – of Kentucky, we have noted or transcribed the following documents and lists.  These papers are now (November, 1871) in the possession of his relative, John B. Bowman, Esq., Regent of Kentucky University at Lexington.

Prominent among these heirlooms is the commission of John Bowman as ‘Colonel of the Militia in the County of Kentucky,’ with the bold signature appended of the great orator of the American Revolution, Patrick Henry, Jr., ‘Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.’  The paper on which the commission is written is coarse in texture and yellow with age, and is addressed to ‘John Bowman, Esquire.’  After reciting his appointment it thus concludes:

‘You are therefore, carefully and diligently to discharge the duty of Colonel of the Militia, by doing and performing all Manner of Things thereunto belonging; and you are to pay a ready Obedience to all Orders and Instructions where from Time to Time you may receive from the Convention, Privy Council, or any of your Superiour Officers, agreeable to the Rules & Regulations of the Convention, or General Assembly and do require all Officers and Soldiers under your command to be obedient and to aid you in the Execution of this Commission according to the Intent & Purpose thereof.  Given under my Hand & Seal, Williamsburg this 21st day of December 1776, P. Henry, Jr.’

There is, also, the original of another commission to the same gallant officer dated in 1779, and signed by ‘Th. Jefferson, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia,’ appointing Col. John Bowman ‘County Lieutenant (or Governor) of the County of Kentucky.’

The following is a copy of an original letter of instructions to Col. Bowman from Governor Thomas Jefferson:

Williamsburg, November 6, 1779

‘I am to ask the favor of you to give notice to the officer recommended by you for the Western Battalions that as soon as one half of his quota of men is raised and delivered by you, he shall be entitled to his commission.  These men are to make part of a battalion which will be commanded by Lieut. Col. Knox, & which is to be stationed in Powell’s Valley.  As this station is so very far from you, your officer is to march his men to the Falls of the Ohio, and there do duty under Major Slaughter this winter; but he is not actually to march till he shall have heard of Major Slaughter’s arrival at the Falls; in the mean time let him employ them in the best manner he can for the public service.  Money for their subsistence from the time you deliver them to the officer till he shall have carried them to their Rendezvous will be lodged with Maj. Slaughter.  The subsistence account previous to their delivery to the officer, you will settle with the Auditor here.  I am sir, Yr very H’ble serv’t, Th. Jefferson

To the County Lieutenant of Kentucky

A copy of Col. John Bowman’s account against the Commonwealth of Virginia, shows that his pay was 22 pounds, 10 shillings per month, and $50 additional per month for subsistence.  The former amount was in money, the latter in Virginia scrip.

A note from ‘Painted Stone,’ dated June 28, 1780, to Col. Bowman, from Squire Boone (brother of Daniel Boone), gives his list of men [printed elsewhere] with this preface:  ‘Sir – I have sent you a list of our strength.  I know not if it would be necessary to Right down their names.  Nevertheless being little troble I have done it.  Our strength is 23 men to wit:’ (Here follow the names).  Squire Boone’s orthography is by no means bad, and his signature closely resembles that of his brother, Daniel Boone.

A letter from Col. John Bowman, dated Kentucky County, May 26, 1780, recites that ‘the bearer, John McCullough, is sent express to the Governor (of Virginia) upon business of the utmost consequence to the State.  Justices of the peace in several counties through which he may pass are requested to aid him in his journey with fresh horses, information, etc.’

General George Rogers Clark certifies, under date February 15, 1782, that Maj. Joseph Bowman, of the Illinois regiment, died in the service of the State of Virginia, at Fort Patrick Henry, (Illinois) 14th August 1779.  This was that brave Maj. Bowman who – not less daring than his great leader Clark – followed him in the expedition that captured Vincennes.  To Maj. Bowman, however, was assigned the capturing of Cahokia, Illinois, with a detachment – which duty was successfully accomplished.

Captain E. Worthington and Benjamin Roberts, Lieut. James Patton and Ensign Edward Bulger, writing from Boonesboro, in April or May, 1780, advise Col. John Bowman as follows:  ‘Lieut. Abraham Chaplain and ____ Hendricks saith that on the 27th or 28th ultimo, they made their escape from the Indians of the Windot [Wyandot] Nation from off the waters of St. Dusky [Sandusky] and arrived at this place this day; that about 3 to 4 days preceding the said escape they had undoubted intelligence that a large number of different tribes of Indians, in conjunction with the subjects of Great Britain, to the amount of 2000 in the whole, 600 of which are Green Coat Rangers from Cannaday were preparing to attack this place, with cannon, and after subduing the same their destination was for the Illinois.  Capt. Mathew Elliott gave intelligence the Indians were gathering horses to aid the expedition, which is expected to reach this place in 4 weeks.’  The writers add, ‘The above information we have just now received and beg you to use the greatest expedition to embody the militia under your command and march them here to repell the Hostile Invaders.  This is the Humble prayers of the Inhabitants of this garrison and of every other Son of Liberty, who also beg you would send express to Col. Crockett to push on his troops to our assistance.’

This undoubtedly relates to the expedition of Col. Bird, who, with a large number of Indians and British troops, invaded Kentucky and destroyed Ruddles’ and Martin’s Stations, but subsequently beat a retreat.

Capt. John Holder, in furnishing the list of his company to Col. Bowman, at ‘Harrodstown,’ June 10, 1779, thus writes:  ‘Sir:  As I cannot conveniently call on you at this time, I have sent a list of the men of my company which were on the late Expedition against the Indian towns; and beg you will favor me with the amount of the sale of the Plunder by the Barer, John Martain, to enable me to settle with them.’


The following lists comprise a large portion of those who were enrolled as pioneer soldiers of Kentucky, between the years 1778 and 1781.  Some of the names on the original rolls were very inaccurately spelled, the rolls being kept by illiterate men, who too often spelled by the sound, names not always correctly pronounced.


At Harrodsburg, and the neighboring Stations.

Captain Joseph Bowman, Lieutenant Isaac Bowman, 2d Lieutenant Abraham Keller, Sergeant Daniel Dust, James Bentley, William Berry, Edward Bulger, Nathan Cartmell, Henry Chrisman, Thomas Clifton, Jacob Cogar, Peter Cogar, Patrick Doran, Samuel Dust, Henry Funk, James Gonday, Philip Harbin, Henry Honaker, Elijah Huston, Abraham James, Isaac Keller, George King, Zebulon Lee, George Livingston, Philip Long, Isaac McBride, Robert McClanahan, Charles McGlack, Alexander McIntyre, Abraham Miller, George Miller, William Montgomery, Barney Morter, Edward Murray, Joseph Pendergrast, Michael Pendergrast, Thomas Pendergrast, Thomas Perry, Henry Prather, John Setser, Michael Setser, Joseph Simpson, William Slack, Jacob Spears, Samuel Stroud, H. Vance, Barnaby Walters (48).


In Lincoln County, at and near Logan’s Station, probably in 1779

Captain Benjamin Logan, Lieutenant John Logan, Ensign Alexander Montgomery, Ensign Azariah Davis, Sergeant Benjamin Pelton, Sergeant William Menifee, Sergeant Roswell Stevens, Sergeant George Clark, Robert Barnett, William Barton, Samuel Bell, Arthur Blackburn, Alexander Bohannon, John Bohannon, Benjamin Briggs, Samuel Briggs, James Brown, John Canterbury, Caspar Casener, William Casey, John Castlio, Pierce Castlio, Philip Conrad, Azariah Davis, Samuel Deason, Ogden Devers, Benjamin Drake, Isaac Drake, John Drake, Jonathan Drake, John Ealor, Charles English, Stevens English, John Fain, Bartholomew Fenton, George Flinn, Lee Garrett, John Gibson, Richard Glover, John Grimes, William Grimes, Jacob Gunn, David Hawkins, Jacob Herman, Roger Hines, Stephen Huston, John Johns, James Johnson, John Jones, John Kennedy, James Knox, Hugh Leeper, James Leeper, William Logan, Thomas Loveledd, Joseph Lusk, John McCormick, John McElhon, James McElwain, John McKaine, Archibald Mahone, James Menifee, Jarrett Menifee, Joseph Menifee, John Martin, Joseph Martin, Samuel Martin, James Mason, James Mason, Samuel Mayes, Andrew Miller, Henry Miller, William Miller, David Mitchell, William Mitchell, Alexander Montgomery, John Montgomery, William Montgomery, William Neal, William Patton, Samuel Phelps, William Phelps, Charles Phillips, John Phillips, Nicholas Proctor Sr., Nicholas Proctor Jr., Charles Runsie, James Russell, Julius Sanders, Alexander Sinclair, George Scott, John Story, John Summers, Archibald Thomason, Nicholas Tramel, Philip Tramel, George White, William Whitley (99).


In 1780, at the Stations near the Falls, in now Jefferson and Shelby counties.

Captain William Harrod, Lieutenant James Patton, Ensign Edward Bulger, Peter Balance, Alexander Barr, James Brand, John Buckras, A. Cameron, Amos Carpenter, Solomon Carpenter, Benjamin Barter, Thomas Carter, Reuben Case, Thomas Cochran, John Conway, John Corbley, John Crable, Robert Dickey, Daniel Driskill, Isaac Dye, John Eastwood, Samuel Forrester, Joseph Frakes, Samuel Frazee, John Galloway, William Galloway, James Garrison, Joseph Goins, Isaac Goodwin, Samuel Goodwin, James Guthrie, Daniel Hall, William Hall, John Hatt, Evan Henton, Thomas Henton, William Hickman, A. Hill, Andrew Hill, Samuel Hinck, Frederick Honaker, Joseph Hughes, Rowland Hughes, Michael Humble, John Hunt, Abram James, John Kenney, Val. Kinder, Moses Kuykendall, John Lewis, John Lincant, Samuel Lyon, Pat. McGee, Samuel Major, Amos Mann, Edward Murdoch, John Murdoch, Richard Morris, William Morris, William Oldham, John Paul, George Phelps, Joseph Phelps, Samuel Pottinger, F. Potts, Reuben Preble, Urb. Ranner, Benjamin Rice, Reed Robbins, Thomas Settle, William Smiley, Jacob Speck, John Stapleton, James Stewart, James Stewart, Daniel Stull, Miner Sturgis, Peter Sturgis, James Sullivan, William Swan, Joseph Swearingen, Samuel Swearingen, Van Swearingen, Robert Thorn, John Tomton, Bev. Trent, Thomas Tribble, Robert Tyler, Abraham Vanmetre, Michael Valleto, Joseph Warford, James Welch, Abram Whitaker, Aquilla Whitaker, Jacob Wickersham, Ed. Wilson (96).


April 1, 1780, at Stations on and near Dick’s River, in now Garrard, Lincoln and Boyle counties.

Captain John Boyle, Lieutenant Samuel Davis, Ensign Elisha Clary, Sergeant Barney Boyle, Sergeant Jonathan Marshall, Jacob Anderson, James Anderson, Thomas Arbuckle, James Coyle, William Crawford, James Davis, Robert Desha, Dennis Diven, Owen Diven, Hugh Galbreath, Evandon Gordon, Peter Higgins, John Hicks, William Hicks Sr., William Hicks, Nathan McClure, William Marshall, Basil Maxwell, William Menifee, William Mitchell, Robert Moore, Samuel Moore, Nehemiah Poore, John Poynter, James Reeves, William Rowan, John Vardeman, Alexander Walker, John Wilkinson, William Young (36).


June 10, 1779, in Madison County, at and near Boonesborough.

Captain John Holder, Uriel Ark, Thomas Bailey, Bland Ballard, John Baughman, G. Michael Bedinger, James Berry, James Bryan, James Bunten, John Butler, John Callaway, Elijah Collins, Josiah Collins, William Collins, John Constant, David Cook, William Coombs, William Cradlebaugh, John Dumpord, James Estill, Edmund Fear, Davis Gass, Stephen Hancock, John Hawiston, William Hays, Jesse Hodges, Jeremiah Horn, Robert Kirkham, Samuel Kirkham, John Lee, Charles Lockhart, John McCollum, William McGee, Ralph Morgan, William Morris, James Perry, John Pleck, Samuel Porter, Nicholas Proctor, Reuben Proctor, Pemberton Rollins, Hugh Ross, Bartlett Searcy, Reuben Searcy, John South Sr., John South Jr., John South the younger, Thomas Smith, Barney Stagner, Jacob Stearns, John Stephenson, Benoni Vallandigham, John Weber, Daniel Wilcoxson, Moses Wilson (56).


In 1779-80, at Ruddle’s and Martin’s Stations, near now Cynthiana.

Captain Isaac Ruddle, Lieutenant John Haggin, Ensign John Mather, Quarter Master Joseph Isaacs, Sergeant John Waters, Drummer John Cloyd, Andrew Baker, George Baker, Andrew Bartle, John Bird, George Bronker, Caspar Brown, Reuben Boughner, John Burger Sr., John Burger Jr., Peter Call, Leonard Croft, William Dehlinger, David Ederman, Thomas Emory, Paul Fisher, George Hatfall, John Hutton, Jacob Leach Sr., Edward Low, George Loyl, Henry Loyl, Peter Loyl, Thomas Machen, William Marshall, Charles Munger, William Munger Sr., William Munger Jr., Andrew Pirtenbustle, Henry Pirtenbustle, H. Pirtenbustle Jr., Len. Pirtenbustle, Peter Rough, George Ruddell, Stephen Ruddell, James Ruddell, Patrick Ryan, William Sandidge, William Scott, John Smith Sr., John Smith Jr., James Stuart, Frederick Tanner, Martin Tuffelman, Moses Waters (50).


June 23, 1780, Stationed at the ‘Painted Stone,’ near now Shelbyville (partial list).

Captain Squire Boone, Alexander Bryant, John Buckles, Richard Cates, Charles Doleman, John Eastwood, Joseph Eastwood, Jeremiah Harris, John Henton, Abraham Holt, Morgan Hughes, Evan Kenton, John McFadden, John Nichols, Peter Paul, John Stapleton, Robert Tyler, Abraham Vanmeter, Adam Wickersham, Jacob Wickersham, Peter Wickersham, James Wright, George Yunt (23).

Total of 408 listed.

5 replies »

  1. Shirley,
    Do not know if this is your Swearingen or not but there are several listed here. Joseph Swearingen, Samuel Sweatingen and Van Swearingen listed under soldiers under the command of Captain William Herrod’s.

  2. This book is a treasure and is available free online. I have found a couple of family references of value, but I just like to browse and read for fun.

  3. How do I see the articles you wrote on Joseph Colvin and the one on Nancy Turner?

    Thanks, Kathy

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Looking for James T. Lewis information. Stated to have served in revolutionary war militia. Born in Wales 8-9-1735 and death 9-1-1825. Trying to verify this information.

Any thoughts?

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