Tag Archives: Old Mud Meeting House

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 1830 Marriages by Thomas Cleland

The Rev. Thomas Cleland became pastor of New Providence Presbyterian Church in 1813.  Many of the names in the list are probably parishioners – McAfee, Armstrong, Cardwell, Forsythe, Cozine and others.  He also preached at Cane Run Church and the Old Mud Meeting House, which was the Dutch Reformed Church.  Rev. Clelland was also a teacher and conducted a classical school for young men in his home, teaching Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Homilectics.  He continued as minister of New Providence until his death, at age 80, in 1858.

List of Marriages for 1830 viz.

Shelton Ransdal and Elizabeth Cozine – January 14th

William Chambers and Elizabeth Nourse – January 27th

William McMurtry and Sarah Maria VanAnglen – February 11th

Rice McAfee and Ann Maria Armstrong – February 24th

John C. Cozine and Martha Light – February 25th

Jacob Crow and Mary Crawford – March 1st

William Woods and Jane D. Cardwell – March 11th

James Woods and Priscilla Armstrong – March 25th

Buchner Miller and Comfort D. Worthington – April 13th

Thomas Reed and Elizabeth Parish – April 20th

Stephen Jones and Mary Ann Barkley – April 29th

John Kirkpatrick and Ann Smythey – Mary 14th

Aaron James and Mahala Starnes – June 23rd

Jesse Hale and Mary Stagg – July 22nd

Joseph Chamberlain and Cynthia B. Roberts – August 5th

John Kemper and Frances A. Doggett – August 11th

John Cardwell and Margaret Ransdal – September 2nd

Harvey T. Ray and Eliza A. W. Cozine – September 21st

Charles M. Cunningham and Hannah Magoffin – September 21st

William H. Adair and Elizabeth Cromwell – September 28th

Willis Burford and Julia Forsythe – October 21st

Joseph McAfee and Priscilla Ann Armstrong – October 26th

Andrew Forsythe and Narcissa W. McAfee – October 29th

Harvey Cunningham and Rebekah Cardwell – December 2nd

Samuel Kennedy and Susan Jordan – December 16th

Greenbury D. Murphy and Susan Boyce – December 16th


To the Clerk of Mercer County

I do certify that the above contains an accurate list of all the marriages with the dates annexed that I have celebrated within the last year, agreeable to authority from your office.

                                                       Thomas Cleland

January 1st 1831

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.

Mud Meeting House Cemetery


The following is a list of inscriptions from the Old Mud Meeting House Cemetery, located in Mercer County, Kentucky. It was erected in 1800 by a colony of Huguenots and Low Dutch from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The church is now owned and maintained by the Harrodsburg Historical Society. To view pictures of some of the stones visit my blog from September 2nd – Sunday Afternoon Cemetery Tour. One of the most fantastic parts of the cemetery are the 25 plaques for Revolutionary War Veterans installed by the Sons of the American Revolution.

  • Wesley Davis, 1835 – August 22, 1857, son of Cornelius and Sally
  • Phoebe Jane Davis, Mary 20, 1844 – June 6, 1849, son of Cornelius and Sally
  • Jackson M. Davis, July 4, 1833 – December 17, 1839, son of Cornelius and Sally
  • John Davis, died November 6, 1841, age 70 years
  • Catherine Davis, died September 8, 1855, wife of John, age 74 years


  • Isaac Davis, died December 23, 1849, age 33 years
  • Ann Davis, February 10, 1807 – July 25, 1864
  • Mrs. Margaret M. Davis, March 7, 1827 – September 28, 1850
  • William T. Davis, December 26, 1815 – January 29, 1852
  • Oliver P. Davis, November 6, 1846 – January 1849
  • Ann W. Davis, April 30, 1815 – January 5, 1884
  • W. T. Davis, September 25, 1804 – September 30, 1874
  • Isaac O. Davis, May 5, 1855 – July 24, 1882
  • Mary C. Davis, February 1, 1814 – November 16, 1890


  • David B. Davis, September 28, 1811 – August 9, 1890
  • Susan Davis, August 26, 1811 – August 21, 1892, wife of David B.
  • James Davis, January 29, 1819 – May 15, 1867
  • James Harry Davis, May 15, 1827 – December 10, 1901
  • Juantha Davis, April 5, 1845 – No date, wife of J. H.
  • Louvica C. Harris, February 16, 1830 – April 2, 1909
  • Andrew T. Harris, April 27, 1833 – April 20, 1904
  • Samuel N. Hine, died February 22, 1849, son of H.H. and Julia
  • Samuel Hogue, December 18, 1787 – May 10, 1839
  • Mary Hogue, November 12, 1788 – July 24, 1839
  • Elizabeth Hogue, December 1, 1827 – July 31, 1845
  • Margaret A. Hulett, died August 11, 1875, wife of Benjamin, age 42 years
  • P. Hurt, died February 20, 1828
  • Rice M. Irvine, July 29, 1843 – April 9, 1863
  • George A. Irvine, March 22, 1841 – January 21, 1864
  • John C. Jennings, January 27, 1811 – June 15, 1859
  • Jane B. Jennings, October 12, 1812 – December 2, 1880, wife of John C.


  • John  Q. Lewis, October 8, 1828 – December 7, 1875
  • Jackson Mann, April 10, 1812 – April 15, 1812, son of J. and M.
  • William T. Mann, March 19, 1819 – July 13, 1819, son of J. and M.
  • William Barnes Mann, died September 18, 1837, age 3 years
  • Jackson Mann, April 9, 1775 – March 7, 1858
  • Mary Mann, December 1, 1788 – October 1823, wife of Jackson
  • Margaret Mann, July 1, 1848 – November 22, 1868
  • James B. Mann, November 7, 1807 – February 27, 1886
  • Mary Terhune Mann, December 22, 1814 – October 18, 1896, wife of James B.
  • Katie Mann, August 21, 1849 – May 2, 1884, daughter of Jams B. and Mary
  • Mary Irvine Mann, November 26, 1846 – January 2, 1878, daughter of James B. and Mary
  • Cosby Edward Mann, September 4, 1855 – February 24, 1858, son of James B. and Mary


  • Major J. J. Mann, March 19, 1819 – July 6, 1876
  • Letita R. Mann, July 3, 1829 – July 30, 1871, wife of J. J.
  • Madison E. Mann, October 19, 1862 – September 23, 1864, son of J. J. and L. R.
  • William A. Mann, September 21, 1859 – April 21, 1873, son of J. J. and L. R.
  • Elizabeth J. McAfee, May 18, ? – January 27, 18??, daughter of James and Elizabeth
  • Elizabeth Jann McAfee, July 3, 1802 – June 8, 1847, consort of James
  • Elizabeth McClanahan, December 19, 1804 – September 23, 1868
  • Richard McClanahan, March 21, 1782 – January 19, 1861
  • Joseph Milburn, July 7, 1787 – August 17, 1868


  • Mary Milburn, April 19, 1783 – April 18, 1851, wife of Joseph


Sunday Afternoon Cemetery Tour

Note by Phyllis Brown:   This is my 200th post!  Thanks to all my subscribers and everyone who visits Kentucky Kindred!  I love sharing my genealogy adventures and information with everyone!  Now on to the next 200!

Sunday  Afternoon Cemetery Tour

Last Sunday our day was spent driving the backroads of Washington County, looking for small cemeteries and taking gravestone photos.  We actually follow maps since it is easy to get lost on the tiny roads – some that are so small it’s hard to meet an oncoming car!  At the rate the older stones are deteriorating it will be impossible to photograph all in the neighboring counties before they are unreadable.  This is an important part of our heritage.  No one should be forgotten.

I photographed all the stones at Hillsboro Church – many have been broken and removed!  This church is no longer used for services.  The sky was such a gorgeous blue!  At a cemetery at the corner of Coulter Road and Glenn Creek Lane the grass was waist high!  We will return in late fall and try to get better pictures.

We tried to find several other small cemeteries on our map, but with no luck.  As we were driving back to Harrodsburg  Ritchey asked if I had ever been to the Old Mud Meeting House, one of only two that have survived in Kentucky.  I had not.  Then he told me a cemetery was beside the meeting house.  I was excited, but not prepared for what we found.  This was a Dutch Reformed Church, established by 50 families who came to Mercer County from Pennsylvania in 1781.  There are 25 – count them – 25 Revolutionary War veterans buried in this cemetery!  The Sons of the American Revolution have placed plaques with their name, birth and death dates, the name of their regiment and their rank.

Many of the stones are in bad shape – lichens are destroying them little by little.  Erosion from the elements plays its part, too.  Both sides of this stone look alike – the writing has faded – time has taken its toll.

My goal is to get good pictures of each stone and each plaque; and draw a map of the placement of stones.  If not done now, in a few years most of the stones will be unreadable.

This is a fairly large cemetery, all old stones – with a few of the above ground monuments that were popular at one time.  A couple of these are crumbled and broken.  The Old Mud House is being restored to be viewed and enjoyed by future generations – the cemetery needs the same care – to be photographed and cataloged for posterity.  I will do everything I can to accomplish that goal!