Sunday, May 6, 2012

Simpler Times

The ready availability of Revolutionary War pension records online gives us a glimpse of life in the early 19th century. Pension applicants were required to submit an inventory of their belongings and show they had no other sources of income. One thing I find quite striking is the limited amount of personal possessions these pensioners list in their inventories. My 6th great-grandfather owned 7 things other than the clothes on his back and possibly some bedding. The inventory of Elisha Houghton equals $43.38 in 2012 dollars! He was awarded a pension of $48 semi-annually and back pension pay of $31.76.  The semi-annual amount is $893.72 in 2012 dollars. 

So how did Elisha Houghton earn his pension? He fought in the Revolutionary War and was at Bunker Hill and Stillwater. Then he re-enlisted for three years in the 15th Massachusetts (Bigelow's regiment) under the command of Capt. Joshua Brown. He took part in the battles of Monmouth and Newport and was at Valley Forge. The Battle of Monmouth is where Molly Pitcher gained fame. 
Engraving of Molly Pitcher at the Battle of Monmouth

Apparently he lost his gun at Bunker Hill because it is reported that he petitioned for remuneration for loss of a gun taken from him while assisting wounded men from the field June 17, 1775. I have no idea if he got the money for the gun or not. 

"And I do solemnly swear, that I was a resident Citizen of the United States on the 18th day of March 1818, and that I have not since that time by gift, sale or in any manner disposed of my property, or any part thereof with intent thereby so to diminish it, as to bring myself within the provisions of an Act of Congress entitled "An Act to provide for certain persons, engaged in the land and naval service of the United States, in the Revolutionary war," passed on the 18th day of March 1818, and that I have not, nor has any person in trust for me any property or securities, contracts or debts, due to me, nor have I any income, other than what is contained in the schedule, hereto annexed, and by me subscribed - schedule of property, necessary clothing and bedding excepted to wit: 1 Tub .33; 1 Iron pot .75; 1 salt mortar .12; 1 teakettle .75; 1 sugar box .19; 1 tin tumbler .6; and 1 old Pail .13 = 2.33.

That I am by occupation a labourer that I am not able to labour that the number of my family residing with me is none

Bunker Hill Monument
Battle of Monmouth
Battle of Bunker Hill
Elisha Houghton - 6th great-grandfather
Moses Houghton - 5th great-grandfather
Sally Houghton - 4th great-grandmother
Florilla Dunham - 3rd great-grandmother
Nina King Ellingwood - 2nd great-grandmother
Annie Florilla Ellingwood - great-grandmother
Fern Lyndell Cotton - grandmother

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