Imagine digging through a dusty old trunk in the attic of your grandparents' home and finding a file marked "Grandpa in the Revolution". You open the file to find it full of brittle old papers with names you never heard of. You might assume they were left from former occupants and toss them in the garbage, not knowing the significance or value of them.
If I found these papers, I would think my mother picked them up at a yard sale somewhere along her travels - but I would be wrong. These old papers happen to be a record of my 6th great-grandfather's service in the American Revolution.
We didn't find an old trunk but thanks to the government's careful preservation of these documents and HeritageQuest, the site where I found the files, we now have a copy of 51 pages of Ezra Rood's pension file, which contain a great deal of information about his life, his family, and his service. I put the images together into a PDF document you can view, download, save, or print to have your own copy, below.
Ezra Rood was born in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, on Nov. 18, 1760. He enlisted as a Private in the Continental Army at the age of 17 in 1777. According to his descendant, Eliza Rood (on findagrave), a letter Ezra sent to Parthena Barton, was preserved and in it he describes his experience in the war as extremely difficult with pain, sickness, hardships and suffering, primarily because of cold and hunger. Nevertheless, he survived and no doubt celebrated America's independence from Great Britain at the end of the war. He died in 1729, at the age of 68.
In the affidavits submitted to the pension bureau, we gain some interesting personal knowledge we probably couldn't find anywhere else. We learn that Ezra enlisted in 1777 in Captain Colburn's Company and Col. Alden's Reg't, serving for three years. He was with General Sullivan part of the time and was at Cherry Valley "at the time it was burnt", known as the Cherry Valley Massacre. This was the dreadful day of November 11, 1778, when a large force of British soldiers, Loyalists, Seneca and Mohawks, led by Walter Butler, invaded Cherry Valley and slaughtered about 30 unarmed defenders as well as some armed defenders. This was in retaliation for the Continental Army's raid of the previous month, against the Iroquois towns of Unadilla and Onaquaga (now Windsor, Broome, County). The towns had been abandoned prior to the attack after the Iroquois were forewarned, but the towns were completely burned and destroyed. The Unadilla and Onaquaga raid was in retaliation for raids led by Mohawk Chief, Joseph Brant, and other British Loyalists against frontier communities in the summer of 1778. The Cherry Valley Massacre led to the Sullivan Expedition, ordered and organized by George Washington.
On page 13, Parthena testifies that Ezra lived in Monson, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, at the time of his enlistment. I checked my index of Massachusetts towns and found that Monson is in Hampden County, which was formed from part of Hampshire County in 1812. Parthena's testimony goes on to say they were married February 11, 1788, by Rev. Doct. Parsons. She was 70 years old at the time of this letter, dated February 6, 1839. Her signature is shown here:
On page 14, the 1839 testimony of Edward Wilcox of Plainfield, New York, is given. Then, on page 16, the testimony of Thirza Stetson of Amhurst, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, is prseented, saying she was the sister of Parthena Rood and that her maiden name was Parthena Warner. She also says she herself was well acquainted with Ezra prior to the marriage, which took place at her father's house in Amhurst by Rev. Parson, the "minister of the town". She recalls that soon after they were married, they moved to New Dunham, New York, and after a few years moved to Bristol and from there to Plainfield, where they lived until Ezra died in 1829.
The testimony of Esther Ingram of Amherst follows on page 17. She states the following:
"I was well acquainted with Ezra Rood, late of Plainfield in the State of New York, deceased, he resided in my father's family two or three years after he came out of the service in the Revolutionary War and was a member of our family at the time he was married, which took place in the winter of 1788 as near as I can recollect. He married Parthena Warner, a person with whom I was well acquainted, and whose father then lived in our neighborhood." She goes on to say that after he moved out of her father's house, she found his pension papers and sent them to him.
On page 35, records regarding Parthena's application for bounty land begin. By then she had two deceased husbands who fought in the Revolution. On page 37, the testimony of her son, Levi Rood of Hartford, Cortland County, New York, is given. He states that he was present at his mother's marriage to Nathan Brown in 1839. Benjamin Carver gives the same testimony on page 38 and on page 39 the testimony of Minister Parsons S. Pratt of Winfield, New York, follows. He states that he knew Nathan Brown and preached the funeral sermon when he died in 1849. He confirmed that Parthena was his widow and that she had been the widow of Mr. Rood formerly. Samuel McKee's testimony is on page 40, stating that he was present at Nathan Brown's funeral.
A letter on page 43, written by Benjamin Carver states that Parthena was granted the pension in 1838 and payments were to continue for five years ($80 per year), but that she "was married to Nathan Brown on the 17th day of June 1839 and according to said act of 1838, her pension stopped and she surrendered her certificate. The question is, was there a law passed in 1842 that would entitle her to the residue of his pension, if so will you inform me how to proceed to obtain it."
In 1849, Samuel McKee wrote to the pension bureau submitting his belief that she was entitled to a pension, for the service of her second husband, Nathan Brown, under the Pension Act of Feb 1848. His opinion was that if she had not married Brown, she would still be drawing from Ezra's pension.
On September 25, 1849, at the age of 80, Parthena went to the Herkimer County Surrogate's Office. In that affidavit (page 48), we learn more of Ezra's service - "was in the service three years, amongst other services was at Saratoga in the different engagements and at Burgoyne's Surrender." Her signature on that document is shown here:
The full pension file (51 pages):
Notice, on page 1 of Ezra's pension file, the note regarding Parthena Brown: "This woman's other husband also served in the Revolutionary War. See case of Nathan Brown, Mass.". I went back to HeritageQuest's site to find Nathan's file and found this mention but the file contains only documents from Nathan's original claim in 1832:
Whether or not she received any bounty land from her claim is unknown, but we learned a lot from the pension file!
Ezra Rood is also included in "Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the revolutionary war", on pages 541-542 as follows:
How are we related?
If you follow the Harvey branch you'll find Ezra Rood. He was the 4th great-grandfather of Mary (Harvey) Reese Gaul, my great-grandmother. Her descent is shown here, by generation. Ezra is the first generation and she is in the 7th generation. Click any ancestor's name to learn more about them and see other memorabilia pertaining to their lives:
Royal and Sally had a daughter named Esther Ensign who married John Shirley in Lisle, Broome County, New York, on December 31, 1844. (In one of my recent blogs, I shared a video of my visit to Hunts Corners Cemetery in Lapeer, where Esther and her parents are buried).
Mary and John were my grandfather's parents.
Finally, an interesting side note for the family. Ezra Rood was at the surrender of Burgoyne, as were Benjamin Stanton and Nathan Wood, all in the Harvey branch of my family tree. Job Shirley of the Harvey branch also participated in Sullivan's Expedition, like Ezra Rood. On the Dickinson branch of my family, my 6th great-grandfather, John Strong, Jr. was also in Sullivan's Expedition. These are all on my mothers side. For those on my father's side, Williams Huntley, was at Burgoyne's surrender with Ezra. Imagine, at least six of your forefather's facing thousands of British troops coming down from Canada, British Loyalists, and their Native American allies in mortal combat in a fight for America's independence from Great Britain. These and about thousands of other brave patriots and soldiers were on the winning side after the battle that is said to have been the turning point of the American Revolution, leading to our "Brexit".
If you're interested in learning more about the Battle of Saratoga and the Surrender of General Burgoyne, I recommend these two short videos on YouTube:
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Ezra Rood and his family