I've hit a difficult spot in my research, and I'm hoping for some research suggestions. My ancestor, Christian Rice was born in Orange County NY in 1762 ("near Goshen"). In his pension application, he states that his mother was a widow when he was about four years of age (abt 1766), at which time they moved to Wyoming Valley (part of Pennsylvania & Connecticut during this period in time), and then to Jenkins Fort in Pennsylvania. They then moved to Sunbury, Northumberland County PA around 1779 when he enlisted in the revolution, then moved to Hempfield Twp, Lancaster Co., PA, where he lived until about 1788. He then moved to Brothersvalley Twp, Bedford Co, PA, and then Milford Twp, Somerset Co., PA, where he died in 1842.

I've had a lot of difficulty trying to locate the names of Christian's parents. The most I know about his family is that he had a sister (name unknown), and his mother was a young widow. I know she was still alive by at least 1779 at the time of his discharge from the military service. Based on the 1790 and 1800 Somerset County, PA census records, I believe his mother may have lived with him as there is an older woman in the household. In the tax records for Lancaster Co., Christian is listed as a single freeman. He is the only Rice in Hempfield Twp, which makes me think his mom would have lived there under a married name, or she lived elsewhere.

Basically, I'm unsure of where to look next. I wrote to the Orange & Ulster NY Historical societies, and they could not locate a birth record for Christian, nor any death records that could be potential candidates for Christian's father. Online, I found records for Harrison Meeting house in Montgomery, NY that have a Christoph Reuss born to Christoph & Catherine in 1762. This record is a very strong contender, but there's not proof yet. This record also lists a sister named Maria, and does not list any sponsors other than the parents, which could indicate that they did not actually reside in that area, if this is indeed the correct birth record for him.

I checked NY and neighboring PA counties for wills and probate records for Rice's who died between 1762-1775 or so, since his father died around that time. While there were some, they did not fit with what was known about the family, so I ruled them out. I would also think his mother would have remarried shortly after she was widowed as she had two young children, but I've no idea where to look for such a record. As far as I know, Wyoming Valley could have been a part of Berks, Northampton, or Northumberland Counties in PA, and some records may also be in Connecticut.

I would appreciate any advice as to where to look next, or which research avenues to pursue in order to find Christian's parents. I'm afraid I'll have to hire a professional genealogist for help, but I've done so much research thus far, that I would hate to pass it off to someone else. This is the text of his pension application, which has provided the most clues for my research:

State of Pennsylvania
Somerset County
In testimony that the foregoing is correct I William H. Postlethwaite Prothonotary of the Court of Common Pleas of Somerset County have hereunto set my hand and affixed my official seal this 27th day of April 1838.
W.H. Postlethwaite

Christian Rice
Petition of Christian Rice a revolutionary soldier for pension. May 28, 1838 Ref to the Committee on Rev.y Pensions

To the Honorable the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives of the United States in General Congress assembled-
The petition of Christian Rice a resident of Milford township, Somerset County and State of Pennsylvania Humbly represents.
That your petitioner was born in the state of New York, Orange County, near Goshen in the year 1762 on the 25th of April. When about four years of age, petitioner’s mother, a widow, removed to Wyoming and thence to Jenkins Fort in the state of Pennsylvania. When about sixteen years of age your petitioner had gone to Sunbury on some business for two or three days, and on his return he ascertained that the Indians had approached Fort Jenkins and killed seven men and wounded his sister while she was attempting to make her escape to the fort. At this news, your petitioner was so much enraged that he went immediately back to Sunbury where he enlisted in the year 1778 in the month of May or June in the company of Captain Thomas Gascon.
Petitioner though his memory has failed much, is certain that he enlisted from the fact that he was promised four dollars at the time and eight dollars a month for six months which however, he never received. From Sunbury, petitioner with part of his company, marched to Wyoming where the troops were to assemble. From Wyoming, they marched to Tioga where they built a small fort. They remained at Tioga fort until General Morgan came there with his rifle regiment. From Tioga fort they marched to Chemung, an Indian village. General Sullivan in command. The Indians were in possession of a small fort at Chemung, an attack was made upon the fort and after a sharp engagement, the fort was stormed and the Indians driven out with the loss of some thirty or upwards of their men about the same number of our troops were killed and wounded. Amongst the wounded, petitioner recollects Lieutenant MCurdy who was shot through the knee and taken to Wyoming where his leg was amputated and he afterwards died. From Chemung we marched to Queen Esther’s town, an Indian village from which the Indians had fled. We destroyed all their corn and the village. From Queen Esther’s town the army went on but your petitioner with others was detached to take the wounded to Wyoming. From Wyoming we returned to fort Tioga and there remained until the army returned. From Tioga we marched back to Wyoming and thence to Cox’s town where we were discharged. Petitioner received a written discharge after serving six months which discharge with the record of his age was burned in his mother’s house by the Indians. Petitioner recollects no other officers but those mentioned and Lieutenants Moses MCurdy and John Meads and another young officer which petitioner recollects from the following circumstance, viz: two men had been detected in stealing a keg of flour and were sentenced to run the gauntlet. Petitioner had broken his stick near the point so that in striking the men he would be unable to injure them. The young officer alluded to ?? behind struck your petitioner with a ratan using this language “you damned young rascal, I will make an honest soldier of you.”
Your petitioner knows of no witness now living who can prove the service detailed and from age and disease produced as petitioner believes by his service in the army, his memory has become so treacherous that he may have forgotten some of the dates mentioned in this petition. But he knows the facts as stated are all correct. He is now seventy six years of age and so far a cripple as to be helpless and unable to leave the door unless helped or carried. Your petitioner is in necessitous circumstances and actually needs such pittance as your Honorable bodies or either of them may grant him to secure to him the actual necessaries of life. He further declares that his name is not on the pension roll of any agency in any state and that he doth henceforth renounce all title to any other pension or annuity than the one now prayed for.
Sworn and subscribed this 26th day of April 1838 before me in open court. W.H. Postlethwaite
We the undersigned citizens of Somerset, Somerset County Pennsylvania hereby certify that we are well acquainted with Christian Rice who has subscribed and sworn to the above petition. That we believe him to be seventy six years of age; that he is reputed and believed in the neighborhood where he resides, to have been a soldier of the revolution and that we concur in the opinion. Wm. Philson
Simon Gebhart
Sworn and subscribed in the court this 26th day of April 1838 before me.
W.H. Postlethwaite

  • I'm not sure how much help this is, but it appears that the Connecticut claim was initially chartered as the town of Westmoreland and attached to the county of Litchfield. It was later broken off and incorporated as the Connecticut county of Westmoreland. This is not related to Westmoreland County, PA. Unfortunately, I have no idea where the records ended up. – Jack Sep 16 '17 at 6:13
  • Might the records listed here (the Bradford County Historical Society) be of some use? bradfordhistory.com/index.asp?pageId=59 "List of Taxable Inhabitants in the Town and County of Westmoreland, State of Connecticut 1776-1780." – Jack Sep 16 '17 at 6:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.