Tag Archives: Cornelius O. Vanarsdall

Revolutionary War Veteran Cornelius O. Vanarsdall Pension Papers

Old Mud Meeting House

The Old Mud Meeting House in Mercer County is one of only two log meeting houses to survive in Kentucky.  The Harrodsburg Historical Society has restored it to its former glory.  It is also the first Dutch Reformed Church west of the Alleghenies, built in 1800 from sturdy oak timbers with walls filled with mud mixed with straw and sticks.  It is located on Dry Branch Road off US68 south of Harrodsburg.

In the adjoining cemetery, surrounded by a rock wall, lie the bodies of thirty-one Revolutionary War veterans.  Most graves are graced with bronze markers, a few with regular gravestones, a few with both.  Fifty families came to Mercer County from Pennsylvania in 1791, many originally from New Jersey.

Today I would like to share a portion of the pension papers for Cornelius O. Vanarsdall – there are over one hundred total!  In his story Cornelius gives us a vivid picture of what life was like for the soldiers during the war.  At the beginning he was a spy.  Have you watched the series Turn?  Must have been much like that.  Later he had many duties including guarding prisoners, driving wagons and trying to keep the British from taking food and stock from the local citizens.  For a gentleman of seventy-four years his memory seems very good!  I checked dates, places and the men he served under – and everything checked out!

In her statement, which is not in this post, Cornelius’ wife, Elizabeth, swears they were married before the first day of January 1794.

State of Kentucky, Mercer County

On this 17th day of April 1834, personally appeared before me, Isaac Pearson, a Justice of the Peace, and one of the judges of the Mercer County Court, Cornelius O. Vanarsdall, a resident citizen of Mercer County, Kentucky, aged seventy-four years, who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed June 7th, 1832.

That he entered the service of the United States under the following named officers and served as herein stated:

That is the year 1776 he volunteered in Captain VanCleave’s Company and he was employed by Colonel Vroom and Major Baird, who commanded the New Jersey Militia when stationed in Sumerset County near Flagg’s old tavern, to act as a spy and give them all the intelligence he could obtain in relation to the British lines, their movements in which capacity he acted faithfully until the taking of the Hessians at Trenton, which was fully three months, he was always in the fullest confidence with the Jersey officers, in the service at many times he was in great danger and peril of his life, he thinks it was the day after the battle at Princeton, he knows it was about the first of January he thinks, 1777, he was detailed out of his uncle’s company, to wit, Captain Vancleave, to guard the lines on the Millstone River, and to keep back the cattle and prevent the enemy from plundering and foraging on the people.  Major Baird was our principal commander and a great one he was.  The enemy’s main army then lay in Brunswick and our army on the Millstone River, in this service he was actually engaged five months and a half, when he was discharged, again in the fall of the same year.  Captain Vancleave’s wagon was possessed by Major Maury, he thinks, of the 2nd Jersey Regiment, a driver was wanted, he immediately volunteered for the service and joined General Wagner’s army then station on the Raritan River, in this service he was actively engaged in conveying provision to the 2nd Regiment, hauling and procuring wood for the officers and soldiers

Until the spring of the year following, and God knows during this winter he had like to have freezed several times.  The army moved from this encampment in April and he was discharged.  This was a tour of ten months which he served faithfully.  Again he entered Captain Vancleave’s Company as a volunteer and joined the army under the command of Baron Steuban and General Winans, or some such name, at Springfield for a tour of three months.  This was after the battle at this place, he cannot recollect certainly the year, he thinks it was in 1780 during this tour, he was in frequent skirmishes when acting as piquit(?) guard.  He honorably discharged after having served his full tour by Captain VanCleave, again he served another tour, as a drafted soldier in Captain Swems Company from Sumerset County and marched to join General Wayne’s army, then at the North River.  We marched to a place called Pompton, when we received orders to halt.  When we were stationed for some time, we then marched to Morristown when we were delegated to guard the prison then stationed in the Morristown Meeting House.  We were stationed here for some time.  He knows he served his full tour and was honorably discharged, again he served another tour at Millstone when the courthouse was burnt.  This was a tour of one month guarding prisoners at this place.  He again joined Captain Lott’s Company for a full tour of three months and marched from Somerset County to the landing on the Raritan River above Brunswick where we were stationed for some time and discharged.  He served other tours several days at a time which he thinks unnecessary to mention.  He knows he was in actual service upwards of two years.  His general officers were Wayne, Steuband, Winans, Col. Vroom, Major Baird, Captain VanCleave, Swim, Lott and some others not recollected.  He has long since lost his discharges.  He hereby relinquished every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except this present and declared that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state.

Cornelius O. Vanarsdall

The deposition of Cornelius A. Vanarsdall, who was a Lieutenant in the Army of the Revolution, aged eighty-five years, taken at the Clerk’s office in Mercer County, Kentucky, this 17th day of April 1834.  This deponent being first duly sworn states upon oath that he is well acquainted with Cornelius O. Vanarsdall, who has subscribed and sworn to the foregoing declaration that he knows him to be the identical man he represents himself to be, that he knows that he served faithfully in the War of the Revolution, he lived in the same county and state with him and served in the same army, but not all the tours with him, but he is fully satisfied that he served upwards of two years faithfully and further sayeth not.

Cornelius A. Vanarsdall

Also the deposition of Peter Huff and Lawrence Vanarsdall, both Revolutionary pensioners, taken at the same time and place and for the same purpose, both being duly sworn according to law, do upon oath, state that they are well acquainted with the said Cornelius Vanarsdall, who has subscribed and sworn to the foregoing deposition that they lived at the time of the Revolution in the State of New Jersey and near the county of Somerset and served in the same army with the said Cornelius O. Vanarsdall and know that he served as he states in his declaration.  They have long been intimately and well acquainted with the said Vanarsdall and know his to be a man of truth and further sayeth not.

Peter Huff

Lawrence Vanarsdall

Cornelius O. Vanarsdall further states that owing to his age and feebleness he is unable to attend the County Court for the purpose of swearing to his aforesaid declaration without difficulty and bodily pain and further sayeth not.

Cornelius O. Vanarsdall

Cornelius O. Vanarsdall, Continental Line, Revolutionary War, November 14, 1760 – February 24, 1843.  Old Mud Meeting House Cemetery, Mercer County, Kentucky.

Cornelius O. Vanarsdall, Pvt. Col. Vroom’s NJ Regt, Revolutionary War, November 14, 1760 – February 24, 1843.  Spy.

Mercer County Pensioners in 1840

Isn’t amazing when you learn something new?  In the last week or so I realized that the 1840 census listed pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services!  On the second page of the census record is a column for their name and age.  Most are men who actually performed the military service, but a few are women who still received their husband’s pension.  Please note that Boyle County was not formed until 1842, therefore Danville and Perryville were part of Mercer County in 1840.

Mercer County Kentucky Pensioners in 1840

Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services Included in the Foregoing

Living in Harrodsburg

  • Thomas Graham aged 78

Living in Mercer County

  • Samuel Slackney aged 79
  • Mary pipes aged 87
  • William Kelley aged 84
  • Timothy Corn aged 84
  • James Rains aged 82
  • Thomas Taylor aged 83
  • Matthew Colter aged 81
  • George Gabbard aged 79
  • Henry Hanslee aged 81
  • Lewis Webb aged 83
  • John Sneed aged 87
  • Christian Snail aged 89
  • Rebecca Verlyck aged 83
  • Cornelius O. Vanarsdall aged 80
  • Edward Willis aged 78
  • Ebenezer Cary aged 83
  • Charles Brown aged 88
  • John Comingore aged 90
  • Robert James aged 75
  • Elias Thacker aged 81
  • John Grant aged 85
  • Jane Shelton aged 82
  • Claborn Bradshaw aged 83
  • John Rice aged 78
  • Susanna Jinsdon aged 79
  • Mary Wilson aged 76
  • Elizabeth Coon aged 75
  • Martha Sandifer aged 83
  • Thomas Kyle aged 83
  •  Edward Houchins aged 80
  • Philip Board aged 80
  • James Galloway aged 84
  • Sarah Bohon aged 76
  • Isaac Fallis aged 77
  • Reuben Smithy aged 85
  • James Potter, Sr., aged  79
  • Charles Hart aged 81

Living in Perryville

  • Peter Hoff aged 85

Living in Danville

  • Henry Deshazer aged 87


George W. Vanarsdall Biography


The Revolutionary War marker above is for George W. Vanarsdall’s grandfather, Cornelius O. Vanarsdall, who brought his family to Mercer County, Kentucky, after the war.  He is buried in the Old Mud Meeting House Cemetery.  I think it very interesting he was a spy for his New Jersey regiment.  Thankfully he was not caught!  

from Mercer County, Kentucky, Biographical Sketches

George W. Vanarsdall was born  April 29, 1827.  His father, Cornelius B. Vanarsdall, a native of New Jersey, removed in early childhood with his parents to Mercer County, Kentucky, and located on Salt River.  He was a farmer, a Methodist, a Union man, and died in 1862, at the age of sixty-six years.  He was the son of Cornelius O. Vanarsdall of New Jersey, a farmer, and carpenter, great framer, church and barn builder, Methodist and Democrat, who died about 1839, aged over eighty years.  He married Betsey Vanarsdall, and their offspring were John, Cornelius B., Abram, Jacob, Polly (Harris), Jane (Boice), Peter, Alexander, Lucy (Adkins) and Isaac.  Cornelius B. married Polly, daughter of Jacob Smock, of Mercer County (died in 1865, aged over sixty years), and from their union sprang Ann (Brown), Elizabeth (McGrath), James M., Harriet (Mitchell), George W., John W., Nannie and Edward M.  George W. Vanarsdall married, December 18, 1849, Miss Elizabeth, daughter of John and Elizabeth (Sharp) Adams of Mercer County (born in 1830), and to them have been born Charles, Emma C., William A. T., J. Wesley, U. S. Grant, Mary N. and Benjamin F.  In youth Mr. Vanarsdall, a native of Mercer County, learned the carpenter trade, which he followed with fair success for thirty years.  Being cast upon his own resources he struggled against adverse circumstances until by industry and frugality his labors have been crowned with an ample competency.  He is now engaged in farming and stock raising, having 245 acres of land in a high state of cultivation.  He is a member of the Christian Church, and in politics is a Republican.