In his History of Maysville and Mason County, 1936, G Glenn Clift gives a lovely introduction to the pension papers of Mason County soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War, Indian Wars and War of 1812. I would like to share that with you before continuing with one of the pension abstracts. We must be thankful that not only did our ancestors receive a pension, but the records, with much information about their lives, is left as record for us!
Kentuckians have long been aware of their debt to those fought our first war for independence. Many and impressive are the monuments that have been raised to the Revolutionary soldiers who knew Kentucky’s sod. Eloquent have been the pleas for recognition of their heroic struggles. ‘Under a long sunshine of peace, we had forgotten much of war,’ said governor Isaac Shelby in his message to the Legislature on December 5, 1816. ‘Most of those, who in the former war, had stood the battle’s brunt, and led us to victory, were in the silent tomb. Of those who remained, age had generally unnerved the vigor of early life . . . Whilst we are reaping the fruits of an honorable peace, we should bear in mind, those brave men, who fell in the war, and whose valor, together with that of their compeers in arms, secured to us that peace. Many of them left wives and children who are dependent upon the bounty of their friends. I therefore recommend that provision be made by law for the support of the widows, and for the education of the children of the militia of this state, who were killed or died in public service during the late war.’
Governor Shelby, together with his associates and subjects, always maintained a close interest in these old soldiers and their dependents by seeing that all who were deserving should receive pensions.
Sill later a remarkable interest in the living Revolutionary soldiers was evinced in 1842, when the Legislature suggested that the names and residences of all the survivors be secured and some way provided ‘in which a grateful people may do honor to the memory and character of the immortal heroes, and patriots, collectively, by whose toil and valor the boon of freedom is inherited.’
The first few years of 1800 witnessed much activity on the part of the old soldiers and their families: the pensions were being paid. There were papers on top of papers to be filled, there were questions to be answered, memories to be revived, battles and campaigns to be described, relived.
Before the Mason County Court, in Washington, began to appear the old soldiers. Each in his faltering voice related his story. As campaign after campaign rolled on, aged eyes brightened and white heads wagged in mute agreement. It was a long and tedious task this identification. Witnesses were called to swear that a certain old man had married a certain equally aged woman. But, finally, was coming the long hoped for pension: a lot could be endured for such compensation.
Barnabas and Mary Allen
Navy and Pennsylvania, No. W8315
The pensioner served in the marines under the command of Captain Porter on the frigate Delaware which had forty guns. He thus entered the service in 1776, in Philadelphia, by voluntary enlistment for a tour of one year to serve under the command of Lieutenant Henderson and he then served until he was honorably discharged, at which time he joined the land forces by voluntary enlistment in the Seventh Regiment of the Pennsylvania Line in 1780, to serve under the command of Colonel Harmer in the company under the command of Lieutenant McMahen. These facts were given in August, 1818, in Mason County, Kentucky, in the pensioner’s petition to the Secretary of War of the United States.
On November 28, 1839, in Pendleton County, Kentucky, Mary Allen, widow of the pensioner, at the age of 76, appeared in open court and stated that they had been married in the summer of 1791 in Beaver County, Virginia, and that her husband, Barnabas Allen, died September 2, 1821.
The affidavit of Birkett Colvin was given at the same time. The deponent stated that he was an acting Justice of the Peace and stated that he was well acquainted with the widow, Mary Allen. He concluded his statements by saying that she was a woman of veracity.
Affidavits of John Forsythe, William Stites and Samuel Holmes also were taken at the same time and place. The deponents stated they were acquainted with the widow and that the pensioner had died at the time and place stated by his widow, and that Mary Allen still remained the widow and relict of the pensioner.
The following dates are from the family Bible: John Allen born July 16, 1802; Henry Allen, born May 12, 1804; Anthony Allen, born November 25, 1806; Eleanor Allen, born February 25, 1797.
On April 27, 1840, in Pendleton County, Kentucky, Eleanor Gifford made affidavit. The deponent stated that she was the daughter of the pensioner and his widow, and she further swore that her parents were at the age that they had stated, and that the Bible records were to the best of her knowledge the truth. She also stated that she had been told by her parents that there had been two children born before her, that one had been burned to death and that the other had died from croup. The deponent further stated that her parents were married as they had stated and that her father died at the time stated by his widow and she concluded her affidavit saying that her mother, Mary Allen, still remained the widow and relict of the said pensioner, Barnabas Allen.
To the above affidavit was also appended the declaration of Joshua Gifford, who swore that the above declaration of his wife was true and he himself had been both well and favorably acquainted with the pensioner in 1791.
Mary Allen, widow of the pensioner, Barnabas Allen, was on the Kentucky roll of pensions at the rate of $40 per annum and her certificate of pension for that amount was issued August 19, 1843, and was sent to William S. Allison.
The pensioner himself, Barnabas Allen, was on the Kentucky Roll of Pensions at the rate of $8 per month, to commence May 11, 1818, and his certificate of pension for that amount was issued March 18, 1818, and was sent to Major Davidson at Washington in the District of Columbia.